Articles Posted in Child Support

1334532_ambulance.jpgA Florida divorce involving children or a paternity action will require, by Florida Statute, a determination of child support. Florida child support is based on a few factors, which are defined by Florida Statute. The factors considered in the child support calculation are the incomes of the parties, daycare costs, and health insurance costs. Understanding how Florida Statutes define these factors is key to understanding child support and how it is calculated.

Under Florida Statute 61.046, the Florida legislature established definitions found throughout the statutes involving divorce and child support cases. When calculating child support, the party that pays the health insurance costs actually receives a credit for such. Florida Statute 61.046(7) defines heath insurance as, “coverage under a fee-for-service arrangement, health maintenance organization, or preferred provider organization, and other types of coverage available to either parent, under which medical services could be provided to a dependent child.” This means that a party may have healthcare coverage under any of these types of scenarios, which also covers the children of the parties.

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divorce.jpgFlorida is a “no-fault” divorce state. The idea is that you do not litigate why you are divorcing, but simply litigate a resolution to the divorce (i.e. distribution of assets, child support, alimony, etc.). To that end, Florida Statute 61.044 abolished certain defenses, such as condonation, collusion, recrimination, and laches.

Condonation is the defense that basically says, “You knew I was doing it and you were fine with it at the time.” This is not a defense to divorce because ultimately, it does not matter why the marriage broke-up, just that it’s not getting fixed.

Also, the defense of collusion has been abolished, so the parties cannot have a secret agreement being held over each other. For example, if a party tries to go to court and say, “She told me she would not ask for alimony.” That is not a defense to a request for alimony.

Recrimination, under Florida Statute 61.044 is abolished. Again, when the reason for divorce is not an issue, saying, “Well you also had an affair,” does not really help your legal case for the division of assets.

Laches are also abolished from a divorce defense because laches ultimately gives rise to another being responsible for a debt. However, a marital debt is going to be divided equally and the idea that the other party is responsible is not at issue in Florida.

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Marriages have unfortunately become one of the many casualties of war and deployment. For members of the military based in Florida, it is not unusual for spouses and families to be separated for extended amounts of time. The transition back home can cause strains on both marriages and family relationships. Although there are the same grounds for a military divorce as there is for any divorce proceedings in Florida (either your marriage is irretrievably broken or your spouse is mentally incapacitated), other issues in a military divorce may differ from a civilian divorce.

Just like members of the general public, military service members still have an obligation to provide support to their children. However, enforcing these obligations can become more complicated when a parent is a member of the military. Military spouses often encounter two major issues related to child support agreements: (1) Military members receive various forms of special pay, and former spouses may be unsure how much is entitled to for child support, and (2) It may be difficult to enforce a child support agreement if a military member is not making payments. If a former spouse is not paying their child support then it is possible to seek a garnishment of wages or involuntary allotment order to protect your child’s rights to support.

Federal laws govern the rights and obligations of both military members and their spouses in the event of a divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act governs the issue of determining spousal support, among other complex issues in a military divorce. An experienced Jacksonville military divorce attorney can help explain your right and responsibilities regarding spousal support and the USFSPA.


A divorce involving military families from or in Jacksonville, Florida can be complex because a military divorce has distinct issues that can involve Florida and federal law. Generally, dissolution of marriage is governed by the laws of the State of Florida, but the federal government has enacted legislation that applies to divorces and family law matters involving servicemen and servicewomen. Federal law governs when a military proceeding may take place, under what circumstances it may be postponed and how active military personnel may be served. Florida law also provides residency requirements for military families.

Child support in Florida is based on the child’s best interests and alimony is based on several factors. The factors a court will consider while determining property alimony award if any, are: (a) standard of living during the marriage, (b) duration of the marriage, age, physical and emotional condition of each party,(c) financial resources of each party, (d) liabilities and how they are distributed, and (e) contribution of each party to the marriage. Similar to a court dissolving a non military marriage, a court must make special findings as to a military member’s pay and allowances.

Similar to all dissolutions of marriage in Jacksonville, Florida, property division in a military divorce is based on the equitable distribution of marital assets. When spouses have inherited property, obtained significant assets or debts and have complex retirement/ pension plans, the marriage will be harder to dissolve. A military divorce that includes military retirement benefits will be governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.

678948_writing_check.jpgChild support is modifiable in Florida. Modifying child support requires that a substantial change in circumstance. Simply not having a job does not automatically mean that a party qualifies for modification, the party must prove that she/he was fired or laid off from the job and it was not voluntary on his/her part. Also, if a party leaves a job for a less paying one, then that is considered voluntary underemployment and does not qualify for grounds of child support modification.

Florida calculates child support based on incomes of the parties and modifying that number requires a significant deviation (up or down) in the incomes of the parties. The increase or decrease of income, if significant enough, can lead to a change a child support in regards to the calculation. however, a small deviation, such as a 5% increase or decrease would not significantly impact the guidelines and therefore does not give rise to a modification.

Both parties are allowed to ask for a modification. This allows both parties access to the courts so that an increase or decrease in child support can be properly assessed based on the present situation. This is helpful for those that get divorced or have a paternity action while the children are young because over time both parties will most likely make more money and child support should be inflated to keep up with the households the child lives in the majority of the time. Also, if the child decides to reside with the each parent equally, then child support should be modified to reflect that time-sharing differential.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

754431_in_business.jpgChild support and alimony laws of Florida often go hand-in-hand. In Florida, child support is calculated based on the income of both parties. In Florida, alimony is considered income to the party receiving the funds, including the person having to pay taxes on the alimony. As such, Florida requires that alimony be determined separately from child support and the order reflect said division to be certain that child support is properly calculated.

691442_balloons.jpgDivorce is more prominent with families that have twins according to a recent study completed by Dr. Anupam Jena of Massachusetts General Hospital. The study looked at over 800,000 families since the 1980 census that claimed to have twins. Of that number, the study found that in families where twins were the oldest that 14% of the mothers were divorced from the father of the twins, which led to the conclusion that twins led to a greater increase in divorce for families. However, the increase in divorce is slight since mothers with only a single eldest child reported divorce 13% of the time.

Divorce can manifest in a number of ways, including income changes, stress increases, expense hikes, etc. When two children are the same age it does take a financial hit on a family because there is not the ability to pass down clothes, cribs, etc. In addition, two babies staying up all night puts both parents in a sleep deprivation, which can lead to stress increases. The parents can manage these factors, so simply having twins does not predetermine your marriage failing, but failing to recognize the stresses and addressing them together can lead to divorce.

If you are thinking of filing for divorce, it is a good idea to find out your rights and options by speaking with a Jacksonville divorce lawyer.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

369111_taxpapers.jpgIn a divorce or other child support case, I am often asked which parent can claim the child as a tax exemption. According to Florida State 61.30(11)(a)(8), the parent with the majority timesharing is required to file the IRS waiver of claiming the tax exemption if the other parent is current in child support payments. This is enforceable when the parents have agreed, or it has been ordered that they alternate tax years claiming the child.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

1046879_house_symbol_3.jpgIn Florida, child support is determined based on the child support guidelines. In addition, if the payee requests an income deduction order, then the child support will be garnished from the payor’s wages with a fee established by the State. The fee is minimal and is assessed to the payor for the service of having the garnishment done.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

1173688_high_school_woes.jpgAs a Florida family law attorney, I often have calls from men that have been served with paternity papers who have just discovered they have a teenage child. Often, these men have already started their own family by the time they are told about the child and now they are looking to pay child support for the benefit of a kid they do not know. Florida law understands this can be an issue, so it only allows back child support only be calculated two years from the date of filing the petition for paternity. In addition, Florida case law has established that if the father did not know of the child and has children prior to finding out about the child, then child support may be calculated giving him credit for the children he presently has. The Florida child support guidelines gives credit for having a prior child support obligation, so the Florida courts have said that the father should get the same credit for kids he has in his life prior to the discovery of an unknown child.

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