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Child Support

Child Support


Both parents are responsible for the support of their children after a divorce or paternity action. In many cases, the parent with whom the child lives most of the time will receive child support from the other parent. Child support is payment made by one parent to another for support of their children after divorce or separation. In most cases, child support will terminate when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school.  Florida does not require a parent to support his or her child after they reach the age of majority nor to pay for the child’s college education.  In cases where the child is incapacitated during his or her minority, then the courts can declare him or her a dependent child and require the parents to support the child throughout adulthood.

Child support payments in Florida are largely determined by statutory guidelines that use a formula to determine the proper payment amount. The guideline formula used by the court will look at and weigh several factors to determine the payment amount, including the net income of each parent, the number of children, the cost of health insurance for the children, the cost of child care, the special needs, if any, of the children and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. The court can depart from the guideline amount by up to 5 percent, up or down, after considering all relevant factors. A departure of more than 5 percent requires the court to make specific written findings to justify the deviation. Also, if the payor parent has the children for more than 20% of the overnights, then that parent has substantial shared parenting which will require the court to use a different formula for calculating child support and will likely reduce the amount of child support ordered.

Because it’s the child’s right to receive support, parents do not have the right to waive child support. If a parent does waive support in a divorce or paternity agreement, that waiver can later be set aside as it is a violation of public policy.

For federal income taxation purposes, child support is unlike alimony in that it is not considered as income for the receiving parent or child, nor is it tax deductible for the paying parent. Additionally, which parent gets to claim the child or children as dependents for federal income tax purposes is an issue which is either agreed to by the parties or decided by the court. Because of issues like these, it is imperative to carefully consider the terms of a marital settlement agreement, given the tax consequences.

The attorneys at Rice have extensive experience in child support issues. Contact them to discuss your legal options and ensure that your child’s needs are met. 

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