Tampa Child Support Lawyer
As a parent going through a divorce, you want to make sure that your children are financially supported until they are grown and independent. If you are the parent who will be footing the bill for child support, you also want to make sure that you are being treated fairly and not taken advantage of. The same goes for the parent receiving child support on behalf of their children. Your children are always the priority, and the Tampa child support lawyers at Westchase Law P.A. are here to advise you and assist you in ensuring they are taken care of. Whether you are seeking support on behalf of your child or are the parent being asked to pay, Westchase Law P.A. is here for you and your kids. Call 813-490-5211 to visit with our family law attorneys today.
How Child Support Is Calculated in Florida
In Florida has adopted a formula for determining the amount of child support owed from one parent to the other and the amount is determined using the Florida Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines take into account each parent’s net income (gross income minus allowable deductions such as taxes and health insurance premiums) and the number of children that are being supported, along with other factors such as health insurance costs for the children and child care expenses, as well as any non-covered health-related expenses. The amount of timesharing each parent has with the children factors into the guideline amount. The parties can deviate from the amount determined by the guidelines by 5%, but in order to deviate by more there must be a motion filed and court approval.
As part of the process of calculating child support, each parent is required to complete a financial affidavit disclosing their income from nearly every conceivable source, including:
- Salary or wages
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips and similar payments
- Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts
- Disability benefits
- All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements
- Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation
- Pension, retirement, or annuity payments
- Social security benefits
- Spousal support (alimony) received from a previous marriage or ordered in the current divorce case
- Interest and dividends
- Rental income
- Income from royalties, trusts, or estates
- Reimbursed expenses or in-kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses
- Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring
Additionally, if the court finds that one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the judge can impute income to that parent for the purpose of calculating child support. Our family law attorneys can guide you through the process of completing your financial affidavit to make sure it is accurately done. More importantly, we can provide valuable assistance if you believe the other parent is deliberately under reporting income, hiding assets, or manipulating the system to obtain a different child support outcome than is fair or warranted. Our lawyers are experienced in divorce and paternity cases involving parents whom are self-employed or business owners, including high-asset and complex cases, and we are well-equipped to untangle any complexities involved in generating the appropriate amount of child support in your case.
Deviations From the Guidelines Are Allowed
By law, the child support guidelines only set an amount that is presumed to be correct. Family court judges are explicitly given authority to deviate from the amount established under the guidelines. Courts can deviate up or down by up to five percent “after considering all relevant factors,” which include the needs of the children, their age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. The court can also deviate from the guidelines by even more than five percent if the judge provides a written explanation of why the guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate. It is often the case that when extensive travel and associated costs are required to facilitate a timesharing schedule (for example, for parents who live in different states), a deviation from the guideline amount will occur.
The family law attorneys at Westchase Law P.A. will walk you through the many different factors set forth in case law precedent and Florida Statutes and will build a strong case on your behalf when arguing for or against child support and a deviation from the guideline amount. These factors include, among others:
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses
- A child’s independent income, not including Supplemental Security Income from Social Security
- Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses
- The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children
- Costs associated with a child’s disability or special needs
- The total available assets of each parent and the child
- The impact of certain tax credits and exemptions
- The parenting plan and timesharing schedule
- Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result
Contact Westchase Law Today
Calculating child support is a complex matter that is subject to many considerations. The assistance of a skilled and experienced attorney is necessary to ensure your children are being supported appropriately.. Judges make child support decisions based on the information provided to them by the evidence presented, and Westchase Law P.A. can present a case that meets you and your children’s needs. Contact our Tampa child support attorneys today.