Child Support Provisions

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Aside from continuing to provide love and regular attention, parents have no higher obligation than to provide financially for their children after the divorce. Child Support is more important than any other debt or financial obligation. What level of support will be required? A court will determine the amount, and an experienced attorney can help assure that the determination is fair under the law.

Calculating Child Support

Support obligations are set according to a statutory formula. Calculating Child Support is not always straight forward, as support obligations are directly determined based on the net incomes of the parties. Determining what constitutes net income is consequential.

For W-2 wage earners with no other sources of income, determining net income for purposes of setting Child Support obligations can be relatively straight forward. Calculating net income for the unemployed, underemployed, or for individuals who own businesses, investments, or have non-recurring income can be more difficult. The final figures can dramatically affect Child Support obligations. The more complicated your financial affairs are, the more critical it is to ensure you have an experienced Family Law attorney assisting you when determining Child Support obligations.

Many Family Law Cases Raise the Issue of Child Support

The issue of Child Support arises in nearly all Family Law cases in which children are involved, including:

• Divorce
• Parenting Plan Modifications
• Paternity Cases
• Non-Parental Custody Cases
• Parental Relocation Cases

Although the parties may not believe Child Support is at issue, the court is independently required to ensure that appropriate Child Support obligations are set in all Family Law cases involving children under the theory that parents should support their children so that state taxpayers are not called upon to do so.

Attorney Michael Hines has represented clients in establishing, modifying, and enforcing Child Support obligations.

At the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A., we have substantial experience in obtaining the correct records and documentation necessary to accurately assess and establish net income in order to ensure support is calculated fairly. Hines and his team are prepared to handle cases where incomes are difficult to prove due to unemployment, underemployment, or where income is otherwise not easily determined due to complicated business or financial interests, or cases in which extraordinary income is involved.

Beyond the Basic Child Support Obligation

In addition to the basic Child Support obligation, parents are obligated to share in other child related expenses, often referred to as "extraordinary expenses." Extraordinary expenses may include uninsured health care, education, sports and other extracurricular activities, work related childcare, travel, and other expenses that may be unique to a particular child.

Although not technically Child Support, the courts are able under certain conditions to require parents to pay for the higher education expenses of their adult children. Again, the sharing of these expenses is typically based on the parents' net incomes. Once net incomes are determined, each parent's pro rata share of the combined net income is determined. The resulting percentage is used to allocate responsibility for extraordinary expenses.

For example, if John's net income is $5,000 a month, and Joan's net income is $3,500 a month, the combined net income of both parties is $8,500. John's share of the combined net income is 59% ($5,000 / $8,500), and Joan's share is 41% ($3,500 / $8,500). Thus, John will pay 59% of extraordinary expenses, and Joan will pay 41%.

Child Support Enforcement

Either a private party or the state can file an enforcement action on a State Child Support order. At the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A., we have handled many Child Support enforcement and contempt actions. We have negotiated and litigated on behalf of parties seeking back Child Support judgments, as well as those defending against such actions.

We also have experience in cases brought by the State through the prosecutor's office or the Department of Child Support.

If you need to establish a support order, enforce an order, or if you have been served with or need to file a Child Support modification action, we invite you to contact the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A. to schedule an appointment.

Florida Statutes and Guidelines

There are specific Child Support guidelines set forth in the Florida Statues, and quite a number of factors are considered when calculating the amount of support. These guidelines apply to married and unmarried couples, to divorce or separation. It is crucial for the child’s welfare and the father’s financial security that the Child Support award be calculated fairly and equitably. Michael Hines is a skilled negotiator and experienced attorney who works diligently with his clients to ensure that their rights are protected and that their children are correctly provided for.

Attorney Michael Hines and his legal team are experienced, prepared, and well qualified to represent you in even the most difficult of legal challenges you may be facing.

We are well versed in Child Support issues, and we know how to apply the law to your specific legal needs and goals. When you are involved in a Child Support dispute, we are here to help you.

Factors Affecting Your Case

Child custody and Child Support are two completely different issues, yet each affects the other. Some of the factors to be considered when working out the Child Support amount include:

• Earnings of both parents, which includes additional income earned through bonuses and special commissions.
• Revenue that is the result of a business owned by either parent.
• The number of children needing financial support.
• Daycare costs paid by both parents.
• Health care insurance for the child (medical, dental and vision).
• The percentage of time the child will be spending with each parent, particularly overnight visitation.

Both the father and the mother have an obligation to the child when it comes to Child Support, and the money that is ordered to be paid is intended to be used to contribute to the child’s welfare.

Florida Court Authority

The Florida Court has the authority to increase or decrease the support amount based on several reasons, including unusual expenses for medical treatment, dental expenses, educational expenses, special needs of the child, the age of the child (particularly as older children have greater need), and other factors.

Because of the variations and complexities of the law, as well as the emotional nature of Child Support issues, it is important that you get advice from an attorney who will help you think clearly and sort out the important issues while protecting and defending your parental rights.

When a family with minor children is faced with the often heartbreaking circumstances of a divorce, one of the most sensitive areas of the break-up that must be dealt with is the child’s welfare. It is necessary to settle matters such as education, health care and custody, as well as Child Support. It is essential that fair and equitable Child Support payments be worked out, so that the court-ordered payments are actually made and the child is not left to suffer with no financial support at all.

The guidelines for Child Support are set forth in the Florida Statues, and a knowledgeable and experienced legal representative, like Attorney Michael Hines, will be able to go over these guidelines with you and predict any possible variation to these guidelines which the court may be consider.

Determining Child Support

Child Support is the most predictable aspect of divorce. The amount of Child Support the non-residential parent pays is determined after custody, property division, and alimony (if any) are decided. Florida Child Support is based on a ratio of the net incomes of the parents — the more you make, the more you pay. From that baseline, a judge can deviate up or down by 5 percent without any findings or more than 5 percent after making specific findings justifying the deviation.

For example, additional support may be awarded for private school tuition (if the child already attends) or if your child has a medical condition. If the paying parent has a very high income and the amount of support greatly exceeds the child's needs, the court may appoint a guardian to help manage the child's financial interests (often through a trust fund).

Another limiting factor is custody and timesharing. If the non-primary parent has at least 40 percent of the overnights, Child Support is calculated at a lower ratio. However, parents who litigate for the 40% overnight requirement to obtain a lower Child Support amount will most likely discover that they really do not save money.

Your Attorney's Role - Determining Income
and Protecting Your Rights

You may need a lawyer to make sure that Child Support is fairly determined. The paying parent may be self-employed or own a business and not be reporting all income. Attorney Michael Hines will use all means necessary, including subpoena of bank records, to verify actual income. If the non-residential parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed to avoid Child Support obligations, the court can impute income and increase support accordingly (forcing the parent to get a real job).

Attorney Michael Hines and his legal team are experienced, prepared, and well qualified to represent you in even the most difficult of legal challenges you may be facing.

We are well versed in Child Support issues, and we know how to apply the law to your specific legal needs and goals. When you are involved in a Child Support dispute, we are here to help you.

Child Support Belongs To The Children

It is important to know that Child Support belongs to the children and cannot be waived by the Parents. Child Support is statutory in Florida, meaning that the statute or law itself determines the amount of Child Support based on the net monthly income of the parents.

The most critical aspect in the preparation of the Child Support Guideline Worksheets is determining the net monthly income of the parents.  Obviously, in many instances parties try to understate or hide their income. At the Law Office of Michael Hines, P.A., we help get the best outcome by thorough investigation and accurate calculation of the right amount of income for both of the parents.

Another important aspect of Child Support is determining who gets the tax deductions for the minor children. This is an important aspect of negotiating a settlement or taking a case to trial. As a divorce attorney with an extensive trial and negotiation background, Michael Hines can provide a good foundation on which to build the key legal arguments to help you achieve the most realistic and workable results in your Child Support case.

Child Support Compliance in Florida

Subtleties in your particular case may be cause for a variation of the Child Support, or it may be necessary in the future to ask for modification of Child Support due to changed circumstances, effectively increasing or possibly decreasing the support received.

It is also an unfortunate truth that there are times when non-compliance to Child Support stipulations becomes an issue, and it is then necessary to seek the help of a lawyer to deal with this so that the rights of you and your child are protected. With Child Support for your case being such a vital part of your child’s future, selecting an experienced Child Support lawyer is a must.

Parents have an obligation to support their children financially. If you are having trouble with unpaid Child Support, we can help you take the correct legal steps to try and enforce your award, collect past due Child Support, and make sure future Child Support is collected promptly. Similarly, if you are still paying Child Support for a child who is an adult, then call our office to discuss what Attorney Michael Hines and his experienced team can do to help you.

Attorney Michael Hines has represented fathers and mothers and their children in Child Support actions from discovery to the simple to the complex to the seemingly impossible.

Put our experience to work for you.

Call the law office of Michael Hines now at 904-794-7898.