Most parents can attest that raising a child costs money. However, it is important that even if a child’s parents are not in a relationship with one another, that the child’s financial needs are met. Therefore, Florida courts will generally order one parent to pay child support. Florida has a statutory formula for calculating child support. However, courts are able to adjust the minimum award for support based on a number of factors.
First, the court can consider whether there are any extraordinary health care expenses. If the child has an independent source of income, other than Supplemental Security Income, this may also be considered. If one parent has regularly paid the other parent support for a demonstrated need is another factor. Seasonal variations in all parents’ earnings and expenses may be considered as well.
The child’s age may be considered, since older children may have additional financial needs that younger children do not. If a child is disabled and has special needs this may also be considered. Both parents’ total available assets as well as the child’s total available assets may also be considered. Whether a parent is taking advantage of the federal child tax credit and dependency exemption, or whether a parent has waived these items, may also be considered.
Another factor that may be considered is the time-sharing schedule that has been ordered by the court or reached by a settlement between the parents, in which the child is in the care of the parent paying child support for a significant amount of time with the child but fewer than 20 percent of the overnights. If a parent refuses to play an active role in the child’s activities, this may also be considered.
These are only a few factors courts in Florida may consider when deviating from the statutory formula for child support obligations. Family law professionals can address parents’ concerns about child support, so that each parent can better understand how the law applies to them. In the end, what is most important is that a child support order meets the child’s financial needs. Children not only need clothing, housing and food, but there are also expenses relating to school, extracurricular activities, health care and entertainment. All of these things combine to ensure the child has a well-rounded childhood that both parents contribute to financially.