Whenever a divorcing couple shares minor children, the court will require the parties to submit child support guidelines before finalizing their divorce. This issue can often become a sore spot, which is unfortunate, because Florida law is very clear on child support, and it is calculated based on a statutory schedule that is mandatory absent exceptionally rare circumstances.
There are only two essential factors at play in calculating child support, together with a handful of other factors that may or may not apply, depending on each couple’s specific circumstances. The essential factors are the parties’ incomes and the number of overnights each parent has with the children. The factors that will provide adjustments, if applicable, are the cost of health insurance for the children, uncovered health, dental and medication expenses, and childcare expenses incurred to allow the parties to work. Even in highly-contested divorces, the only factor that is capable of dispute is income, which can sometimes be artificially lowered when a party owns his or her own business. In the vast majority of cases, however, the parties’ incomes are not subject to debate, and the calculation of child support is simply a matter of applying the statutory formula.
Sometimes parties seek to waive the payment of child support as part of their divorce settlement, but the law in Florida is clear that the parties may not negotiate away child support in their divorce, or otherwise come up with a dollar amount that does not comply with the calculation set forth in the statute. Child support is considered a right of the child, not the receiving parent, and therefore the court will always ensure that child support has properly been calculated and will order the parties to comply with that calculation as part of the final divorce judgment. This is merely a reflection of the broader concept that all issues concerning the children must be determined with their best interest in mind, which the court will confirm before finalizing the divorce.
As you can see, the parties should never waste their time and energy arguing about child support, as their hands are effectively tied on this issue anyway based on Florida law. If you are facing divorce, please contact Healthy Family Mediation Center at (239) 529-3549 or visit our website at www.healthyfamilymediation.com today to learn how we can help you resolve all the outstanding issues in a healthy and cost-effective manner, allowing you to focus your time on transitioning to a different family structure and learning to co-parent with the best interest of the children in mind, instead of wasting it on expensive litigation that is damaging to both you and your children.