What is Child Support?

1097376_bens_eyes-300x119Child support is a means of the court obligating parents to meet the financial needs of their children. Florida Statute 61.30 is the Florida child support statute. If you are the biological, adoptive, or legal parent of a child, the state imposes a duty to support that child at a certain level, based on a number of factors. The court considers timesharing, health insurance expenses, daycare costs, household income of both parties, and prior children for whom child support is paid. In addition to this, the number of overnight stays at one parent’s house will directly affect the amount of child support that is owed.
In the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Revenue is responsible for management and enforcement of the child support program. To determine how much child support a noncustodial parent must pay, a standard needs table found in Florida Statute 61.30(6) provides a  starting point for child support calculations.
Many people seem to misunderstand that while they may be providing the other  parent with diaper, wipes, and food, this does not eliminate their obligation to providing the support ordered by the court. Even if support is not ordered by the court, a parent can request retroactive child support for up to two years, prior to an order by the court. Child support is put in place to meet a child’s needs. Typically parents believe that splitting timesharing equally will eliminate their support obligation. But, equally splitting timesharing will not always have that effect. The court will evaluate the needs of the child by considering the factors above. If the child still needs support, beyond the presumed amount of support they are receiving with equal timesharing, the court will still place a child support order in effect to supplement the deficit.
Payments for child support typically end on the child’s 18th birthday. However, there are a few instances where payments can continue beyond that date. If a child has not yet completed high school by the age of 18 and is anticipated to do so prior to turning 19 years old, then the noncustodial parent must continue to make payments until the child graduates high school or until the child turns 19, whichever occurs first. Also, if the child has special needs, payment obligations can continue beyond the child’s 18th birthday. If a court order required the support paying  parent to make direct payments to the majority timesharing parent, the support receiving  paying parent can simply stop making payments on the child’s 18th birthday. If payments are made through the state (Florida Department of Revenue), then the support receiving parent may have to  retrieve an order from a judge to ensure that the payments are correctly terminated.
If the support paying parent gets behind on child support payments, the court can issue a wage garnishment to obtain child support payments directly from the employer of the obligated spouse. In general, up to 50% of the support receiving parent’s wages can be taken for child support payments if the support paying parent must support another spouse or dependent. If the support paying parent does not have to support a spouse nor dependent, then up to 60% of his or her wages can be taken, or the  limit can increase to 55% and 65% respectively if the support paying parent owes past-due child support amounts that are 12 weeks or more past due.  There is an exemption to these limits, if the support paying parent earns $750 or less weekly and provides more than 50% of the support for dependent(s), then the percentage is lowered.