Florida Alimony and Child Support – House Bill 907

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House Bill 907 was approved and signed by Governor Crist on June 3, 2010. This bill made a number of changes to child support and alimony laws.

Changes:

1. Requires child support awards to end upon the child reaching the age of majority and, where appropriate, to account for revised child support guidelines based on remaining child support owed.
2. Where the parents of a child have a high income, a different standard is applied in order to determine the amount of child support owed.
3. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that a person can earn minimum wage as well as provides additional criteria for the establishment of an imputed income amount. Imputed income is used when one parent voluntarily quits their job or voluntarily is underemployed. It is used as a tool to better provide for the child.
4. Amends the child support formula; income tax consequences of children and their financial support are not accounted for.
5. A court can now consider a situation where a child support award requires a parent to pay an amount of support that will make that parent fall below the poverty line.
6. Reduces the 40% timesharing threshold for a child support award adjustment based on timesharing to 20%. This way the money follows the child.
7. Provides for the application of a partial payment of alimony similar to how partial payment of child support is applied.

Effects of the proposed changes:

Termination of Child Support at Majority
o Generally an award for child support ends upon the child reaching the age of 18-years-old. However, an award may be extended in two different circumstances:
i. If the child is dependent upon his or her parents because of a mental or physical disability that existed before the child turned 18.
ii. If the child is still in high school but is expected to graduate at age 19.

Application of Alimony Payments
o The current laws allow for partial payments of a child support obligation. However, the bill amends the current law to allow for a parallel rule regarding partial payments of alimony
o The bill also provides that interest due on past due support obligations may be enforced like any other support award, like contempt, and provides that interest is not due on the previously established interest.

Child Support Guidelines Formula – Imputed Income
o Imputed income is what a party should be earning; it is used to determine child support rather than actual income.
o The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that each party can earn a minimum wage on a full time basis. However, this presumption can be proved invalid on a case-by-case basis.
o The minimum imputed income of a parent is the Florida minimum wage (currently $7.25). For any parent that does not reside in the state of Florida, the state’s minimum wage where that parent resides will be used. If a state minimum wage cannot be applied the federal minimum wage will apply (currently $7.25).

Child Support Guidelines Formula Income Calculation
o The income calculation formula is a formula that calculates the net income of the parents, determines a minimum child support need, and splits that need by the shared parenting plan. This formula determines the amount of child support that is owed by on parent to the other.

An attorney should be contacted if you feel your obligations have been or should be changed as a result of this bill. To read more on this topic see House Bill 907.