Child support is provided by the court to the parent who has the most time-sharing with the minor child.
The amount of child support to be paid is determined based upon the incomes of the parties, the amount of overnights each parent enjoys, childcare costs, health insurance costs, and other factors.
A paying parent should receive credit for previous court ordered child support actually paid. There are also allowable deductions permitted (which helps to lower child support) for mandatory retirement, health insurance expenses and, mandatory union dues.
There are two processes for having child support determined.
The first is administratively through the Department of Revenue. Department of Revenue can assist parties in having child support calculated without a court process. As such, if you receive a letter from the Department of Revenue relating to child support, you need to review it, timely respond and/or object using the specific process provided within the notice sent. Department of Revenue is able to have this process completed through certified mail only.
This means you will not be personally served with the action. If you delay in responding to these certified letters or fail to respond there can be drastic consequences as they may proceed without you, make rulings on your income and even order arrearages going back 24 months (without giving a paying parent the opportunity to show proof of payment).
Once this occurs, the rulings can only be modified prospectively. This means we may be able to correct the child support numbers for the future. All past child support including the arrears assessed will remain.
The second process for child support is through the process of filing a Petition for Child Support in either a dissolution or paternity action with the Court. Once the petition is filed, the other parent will be personally served and will have 20 days to respond.
In order to determine each party’s incomes so child support can be properly calculated, certain documents are required to be produced. These documents include a Financial Affidavit, tax returns, bank statements, health insurance cards, deeds, leases, brokerage accounts, paystubs and liability statements. In addition, should one party be unemployed or underemployed, a court can impute income to that party.
The hiring of an attorney to assist in calculating child support is important so that the proper documents are reviewed to ensure that child support is set at the proper amounts.
In addition, the calculations can vary based upon the amount of court ordered time the other parents spends with the child if the amount of overnight time-sharing is at least 20% (73 overnights).
A parent who does not receive court ordered time with a child can file a paternity and time-sharing action or counter-claim, which can then be considered in the child support calculations.
Florida Statutes governing child support is located at 61.30.