St. Petersburg Child Support Lawyers
Whether married, unmarried, separated or divorced, both parents are legally obligated to support their children financially, and the Florida courts will order child support payments as appropriate in a Florida divorce, paternity action, or child custody dispute. Many factors go into determining who will pay child support, how much and for how long, and it takes skilled legal assistance to ensure that you are paying or receiving the proper amount and that your children’s needs are being met. The family law and divorce attorneys at Greene & Greene have significant experience in handling the initial determination of child support in a Florida divorce, as well as dealing with a proposed modification of a post-divorce child support award based on changes in income or other changes in circumstances. For effective advice and skilled legal assistance, contact our experienced St. Petersburg child support lawyers today.
Help With Calculating Child Support in St. Petersburg Divorce Cases
The legal obligation of parents to financially support their children extends until the child turns 18 or until the child graduates high school, whichever is later. For children with special needs who cannot support themselves, the obligation can extend indefinitely. Parents are not legally required to pay for their children’s college expenses, although they can create a legally binding agreement requiring one parent to pay or to share the costs if they so desire. Once ordered by the court, child support orders are only modifiable if the party seeking a change can demonstrate a change of circumstances that would justify the modification. If the other parent objects, a hearing in court might be necessary to resolve the dispute.
Child support in Florida is initially calculated according to a formula set out in the Florida child support guidelines. These guidelines take into account the combined monthly net income of both parents and the number of children to be supported, along with other costs such as child care and health insurance, to arrive at a monthly support amount. One parent will then be ordered to pay support to the other parent based on their share of combined monthly income and the custodial timesharing schedule.
When calculating child support, the guidelines include income from just about every source imaginable:
- Salary or wages
- Bonuses, commissions, overtime, and tips
- Business income from a partnership or other venture
- Self-employment income
- Disability benefits
- Workers’ compensation
- Pension payments, retirement benefits, and annuity payments
- Social security
- Spousal support received from a previous marriage or ordered in the current divorce
- Interest and dividends
- Rental income
- and more
It can be difficult to identify all sources of income, especially in areas where income can be reported or calculated in different ways. Our family law firm attorneys are experienced in working with high asset divorce cases. We can help ensure that both you and your spouse are reporting income properly, including cases where an amount of income should be imputed to a party who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, or if a party is deliberately hiding assets or underreporting income. This process is essential to a fair calculation of support for the children’s sake.
Help With Challenges to the Florida Child Support Guidelines
The amount determined by the guidelines is presumed to be correct, but the amount can be challenged and altered by the court. The judge in a divorce or child support action can deviate up or down from the guidelines amount by as much as five percent after considering all relevant factors, including the child’s needs, age, station in life, the child’s standard of living, and each parent’s financial status and ability. The court can also deviate by more than five percent if the judge provides a written finding explaining why the guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate.
Factors that can influence the judge to deviate from the guidelines amount include:
- The amount of time the child is spending with either parent
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational or dental expenses
- Any independent income the child has, not including Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Seasonal variations in the parents’ income or expenses
- The age of the child (needs typically grow as children grow)
- Any special needs the child has due to disability or developmental challenges
- and more
If you are seeking or opposing a deviation from the guidelines amount, we’ll gather and develop the evidence and prepare and present a strong case to the court proving the child support amount that is in your child’s best interests.
Contact Greene & Greene Today
Help with child support in a Florida divorce, paternity suit, or other family law matter is only a click or a phone call away. Contact the experienced St. Petersburg child support lawyers at Greene & Greene today.