Articles Tagged with child support

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For some people, complaining about money is a hobby, and some even elevate it to the status of a high art. While they might get a kick out of grousing about the prices of items on restaurant menus or in the supermarket, it is understood that they ultimately have a choice about which items they buy. What really ruffles people’s feathers are fees that they are legally required to pay.  Even generally cheerful people grumble about taxes and parking tickets. Child support is another financial obligation that people often feel is imposed on them against their will. It is not hard to find divorced parents who, given the opportunity, will go on at length about how much better their financial situation would be if they did not have to pay child support. Even people who would never complain out loud might secretly wish that there were a way to be legally exempt from paying child support. In fact, there are several ways, but most of them involve circumstances you would not wish for yourself.

The Child Support That Most People Have to Pay

Florida has standard child support guidelines. The main criteria determining how much you must pay are your net income and the number of children you must support. Judges usually follow the child support guidelines closely. In fact, when a judge orders a child support amount that differs from the amount determined by the guidelines by more than 5%, the judge must file a written statement explaining why he or she decided on this new amount. Continue reading

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When the phrase “imputed income” is mentioned, the first image that comes to many people’s minds is the media stereotype of the deadbeat dad. They picture a man who refuses to seek work or who only takes jobs that pay under the table. The stereotypical deadbeat dad is someone who cares more about avoiding paying child support than about the wellbeing of his children. His pride will not allow him to let the court tell him how to spend his money, no matter how much or how little of it he has. He lets his bitterness toward his ex-wife cloud his judgment, so the court decides how much he should be earning and forces him to pay, setting in motion a cycle of bitterness and unfulfilled obligations.

Regardless of the fact that there are far fewer true deadbeat dads in real life than there are in the popular imagination, child support obligations are not the only reason that Florida’s family courts make decisions based on someone’s imputed income. The Koscher v. Koscher case involves the divorce of a wealthy couple who did not have minor children at the time of the divorce. Instead, the judge relied on imputed income purely to determine alimony payments.

What is Imputed Income?

In short, imputed income is estimated potential income. When a supporting spouse (or a parent paying child support) is earning an income, the courts base the amount of support payments on the income amount. If the court determines that the person is voluntarily unemployed or intentionally earning less money than he or she could, the court bases the support payments on what the person should be earning based on his or her previous work experience and previous income amounts. Continue reading

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Divorce can be an uncertain or stressful situation for anyone. After all, many facets of your life from your living arrangements to your finances to your relationship with your children will likely change. While these changes may be difficult for anyone, they can be particularly difficult and stressful for a parent who has decided to stop working to stay home and care for the children and the household.

Being a stay-at-home parent is never easy, as there is a great amount of responsibility involved in constantly caring for small children on a daily basis. In addition, a stay-at-home parent is often tasked with a large percentage of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household chores. Such contributions can be extremely valuable for a household, especially if it eliminates the need for costly child care, housekeepers, or other services. In addition, a stay at home parent agrees to put his or her own educational or professional goals on hold for the greater good of the family.

Unfortunately, when it comes time for a divorce, the breadwinner of the family tends to focus on his or her financial contributions and not appreciate the sacrifices the stay-at-home parent has made. Because they have contributed more financially, they often believe they deserve more financially, as well. Luckily, family courts generally take the non-financial contributions of stay-at-home parents into considerations when making determinations regarding alimony and other financial support in a divorce. However, it is always wise for stay at home parents to do the following and more to protect their rights: Continue reading

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The end of a long-term relationship can be emotionally difficult and can make people act in ways that may be out of character. Sometimes, people who are getting a divorce feel a newfound sense of freedom that allows them to pursue new social or romantic options. In other instances, a divorce can cause individuals to engage in emotional coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or overspending. While these are natural and human reactions to the end of a relationship, sharing this type of behavior on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram could have a negative effect on the way that certain issues in your divorce are resolved. Some of the ways that social media posts could affect your divorce are detailed below.

Sharing on Social Media Could Affect Child Custody Determinations

Under Florida Law, the guiding principle that courts must follow when making child custody determinations is the “best interests of the child.” In figuring out what type of custody arrangement is in a child’s best interests, courts may consider any factor that they deem relevant. For this reason, social media posts that indicate that a person is engaging in behavior that the court believes could affect a person’s ability to be an effective parent could potentially be introduced as evidence in cases in which child custody is disputed. Continue reading

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The legal system recognizes that children are generally incapable of adequately supporting themselves and, therefore, parents are required to provide financial support. In cases in which two parents are no longer together, one parent generally has the obligation to pay regular child support to the other parent. When a child reaches the age of 18, he or she is considered an adult and child support obligations generally cease.

There are two important exceptions under Florida law to the rule that child support terminates on the child’s 18th birthday and these exceptions are as follows:

  • The child is 18, lives at home, attends high school, and there is reasonable expectation that the child will graduate before their 19th birthday; or
  • The child is over 18 but remains dependent on their parents because of mental or physical incapacity that started when they were younger than 18.

The second exception is important for any parents of children who are either born with a disabling condition, develop a condition during childhood, or who sustained a catastrophic injury that left them unable to care for themselves. Continue reading

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Situations change and individuals can go through unexpected periods of financial downturn. Losing your job, having a medical emergency in your household, and many other similar events can make it difficult to cover your bills. In such times, you may also struggle to make your court-ordered child support payments.

The court orders a certain amount of child support based on your situation at the time of the ruling, and the courts do not attempt to anticipate your future financial circumstances. Therefore, if you lose income or your other expenses increase, it is understandable that paying child support may become challenging or even impossible in the future. Unfortunately, failing to pay child support can have serious consequences in Florida, but you have legal options to try to make your child support more manageable to avoid these consequences.

Possible Actions Against You

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Many people who must pay child support mistakenly believe that their payments should only ever be used to pay for a child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. Though child support laws intend for the support payments to contribute to basic necessities, the Florida family courts have busy schedules and do not generally have the time to monitor how parents are spending their child support payments. Therefore, in reality, child support funds may go toward supporting many more aspects of a child’s life.

It is generally up the custodial parent receiving the child support how to best put the child support payments to use. Some parents may use these funds specifically for the needs of the child, while others may combine child support payments with household earnings in order to pay rent, utilities, or make purchases for the entire family. The following are common parts of a child’s life that child support may cover.

Education

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Florida child support laws include a specific formula by which to calculate child support orders. The formula takes into account factors such as the number of children at issue, each parent’s income, expenses, costs of child care, costs of the child’s healthcare, any special needs of a child, and more. These calculations are meant to cover the basic necessities of the child. Generally, a court is expected to follow the guidelines for child support, however the court does have a limited amount of discretion to stray from the guidelines if it finds the circumstances justify such a decision. In most situations, however, the court may only deviate from the set formula by five percent.

Good Fortune Child Support

There are some circumstances under which a court may divert more substantially from the child support formulas and order child support amounts that cover more than just a child’s basic needs. This is referred to in Florida as “good fortune” child support, and is often awarded in cases in which one parent is particularly affluent. Courts have determined that children of such parents deserve to benefit from that parent’s wealth and success, especially since they would enjoy such benefits if the parents were married.