Two toddlers with baby sibling

Child Support- How is it Determined?

One of the first things a person considers before separating from their spouse is the amount of money they will have to pay in child support. The State of Florida has created guidelines that a Judge must use to determine child support. Based on these guidelines, child support is primarily determined by factors such as the parties’ income, the number of children between the parties and time sharing agreements.

A factor a judge considers in determining the amount of child support is the parties’ income. Every parent has an obligation to support his or her children, whether it is by directly providing shelter, food and necessities or by giving money to their other parent to care for their children. Typically, the obligation to support his or her child is met while the child is with that parent.

Another factor a judge considers in determining the amount of child support is the time-sharing agreement. Often, you hear people say that they have sole custody of their child or that they’re the only provider for that child. Contrary to what you might have heard from others, there are two types of Parental Responsibilities: Legal and Physical Custody.

Legal Custody refers to the responsibilities of the parents to make the everyday decisions for their child. Decisions such as what school their child will attend, what religion will they practice, who their friends are and whether they’re allowed to sleep over their friend’s house, who will be the child’s primary physician and things of that nature. Physical Custody refers to with whom the child is living.

A fundamental right that we enjoy in the United States and in Florida is the right to raise our children. This means that there is a heavy burden to remove a parent’s rights to their child. For this reason, it is typical that both parents usually have legal custody of their children, unless it is shown that a parent is unfit to care for the child. To show that a parent is unfit to raise their child, a party must show that the child has either been neglected, abused or abandoned.

If one parent has more time sharing than the other parent, then the parent with less time sharing must make up the difference, and this is what is referred to “child support payments”.

Parents must support a child until:

  • The child turns 18
  • Sometimes longer if the child has special needs or is in college
  • The child marries
  • The child is on active military duty
  • The parents’ rights and responsibilities are terminated (if the child is adopted)
  • The child has been declared emancipated by a court

When it comes to deciding legal and physical custody of the children, courts can and do make any number of arrangements. Some parents may share physical custody but not legal; some may share legal custody but physical custody is split to accommodate living with one parent while going to school and visiting the other parent.

As with any family matter, part of what makes any matter so complex is the fact that everyone’s situation is unique. Some people may assume that simply because their friend or family members had an outcome, that their matters will have the same outcome. This is simply not the case and it is important to consult an experienced attorney that will fully analyze and assess the circumstances of your case.

If you find yourself in this circumstance and you would like to seek legal help, please contact us right away. We’ll sit down with you, go over the details of your case, and help you to determine what the next steps should be.

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