One of the most important issues in most divorces involving parents is child support. Florida, like virtually every other state, has tried to make things easier with consistent child support guidelines.
Child support guidelines: Florida
This whole concept is not unique to Florida. The history is actually quite interesting. 16th century England had Elizabethan Poor Laws that required a father to pay the parish to provide support for his child, and the English legal theorist Blackstone argued that parents have a natural duty to support their children. That said, American courts disagreed until recent decades on parents’ financial obligations. Judges would make case-by-case decisions, often ordering a father to make nominal payments of something like $10 to their children.
In 1975, Congress created the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement as a federal agency that would work with state governments to provide four important child support services.
First, it would help locate absent parents.
Second, it would help establish the legal fathers of children (legal motherhood is usually obvious).
Third, the federal government would help with establishing child support. Finally, the federal government would help enforce child support obligations.
The federal government was really trying to make parents more responsible for their own children, thereby hopefully reducing federal welfare costs. State child support awards were largely insufficient, and they were also too inconsistent. In 1984, Congress passed Child Support Enforcement Amendments and federal regulations soon pushed states to create child support guidelines based on specific descriptive and numeric criteria.
In just a few years, Florida child support guidelines were born along with similar ones in nearly every state.
Look at the actual state of Florida child support guidelines
The Florida courts provide a packet of clear instructions with a Florida child support guidelines worksheet. The worksheet is supposed to be used in any divorce case where child support is being requested. The Florida child support guidelines first require the father and mother to both enter their monthly income. These numbers are then used to calculate a basic monthly obligation, which is the amount that the child (or children) needs to live according to the standard of living set by the parents’ income.
Once the couple figures out the basic monthly obligation for their child, the process begins for figuring out who should pay that obligation. The calculation basically breaks down to a ratio of each parent’s income.
If one parent sharing equal joint custody makes 75% of the combined total income, that parent will have to pay about 75% of the basic monthly obligation in the form of payments to the other parent.
Other factors also go into the calculation, though. These additional factors can include things like health insurance and child care costs. The other big factor is the amount of time the child spends with each parent. In short, if one parent has the child a lot more of the time that parent is going to get more support (or pay less, if applicable).
Florida child support guidelines are not set in stone
Keep in mind that judges can still deviate from the guidelines if they feel it is appropriate. If Florida judges order child support that is over 5% more or less than the guideline then the judge must give reasons for the adjustment in writing.