Helping Fathers in Tampa Navigate Child Support
Let’s face it, divorce is rarely an easy process for anybody involved. As a caring father, it’s only natural that you want to limit the stress and hardship the situation might cause your children. This is where a fair and equitable approach to child support is important. It is the responsibility of both parents to make certain your kids have the resources they need to thrive.
This might seem like a simple enough situation, but there are various factors that can make it more complicated. There are times when you may find that you as the custodial parent are faced with a former spouse who is unwilling or unable to contribute toward your child’s care. Alternatively, if you are non-custodial or sharing custody, it is not unusual for Florida courts to rule unfairly in favor of mothers. Which is why it is so important to get the right guidance for your unique family situation.
Teaming up with counsel that specializes in family law is the key to getting the best possible outcome for your child support case. A competent divorce attorney has the knowledge, skill, and commitment to aggressively pursue your case and tip the balance in a way that provides you and your children the justice you both deserve. As the well-known child custody lawyers for dads in Tampa, FL, In Law We Trust, P.A. should be your very first call. Since 2014, the law firm of In Law We Trust, P.A., has been annually selected by the National Trial Lawyers of America as one of the Top 40 under 40 in Florida which is a professional organization by invitation only, composed of the top trial lawyers from each state or region who are under the age of 40. We’ve also been a featured member of The National Academy of Family Law Attorneys since 2019, as well as included in Super Lawyers each year since 2017. Our firm is renowned for our experience in family law and for our successes in helping men with their pursuit of fair child support arrangements.
Establishing Who Pays Child Support
There are state by state variations in how child support is handled. In Florida, courts are starting to favor a shared time system rather than awarding sole custody to a single parent — though that’s not applicable in all circumstances. Naturally this impacts who pays child support.
If there is a clear imbalance of custody arrangements, it is usually a simple matter of child support being provided by the parent spending less time with the child. But it’s not always that straightforward. A significant part of the obligation to pay child support comes down to each parent’s level of income as well as how much time they spend with the children involved. Even when both you and your former spouse are equally sharing custody arrangements, whichever of you earns more is still likely to pay the other some form of child support.
This means that there is not often a circumstance under which at least one parent doesn’t pay the other child support. Indeed, it’s worth bearing in mind that unlike in many other states, parents in Florida are also not allowed to waive their child support obligations. In the end, determining who pays child support comes down to determining how much child support each child requires using Florida’s child support guidelines, establishing each parent’s percentage of care costs based on income, and then which parent has to pay what amount to the other based on percentage of custody. As always, though, there are circumstances where this may be different.
Understanding How the Rates in Florida Work
Unlike other states, Florida doesn’t have a standardized percentage of net income that a parent must pay in child support. This state has a more complex arrangement, but it is geared toward being a fairer representation of what each parent should be contributing toward food, clothing, education, recreation, and healthcare among other elements. The standard rates for Florida are predicated on what the state has established the general monthly living costs for each child are likely to be. The formula combines each parent’s net monthly income, and then allocates a monthly responsibility for each parent dependent on the number of shared children. The state has created a table that considers joint monthly net income from $800 to $10,000 dollars, and anywhere up to 6 shared children.
When the income levels are below $800 per month, guidelines stipulate that the courts will determine a token amount to establish a protocol for paying support, with a view to raising this as the income levels grow. Where the net combined income is over $10,000, the amount of the lowest income threshold is applied, plus a percentage (between 5% and 12.5% depending on the number of children) of the amount over $10,000.
However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule, and there are various elements that can impact what the final dollar amount being paid is likely to be. It’s no surprise that this process might leave you feeling overwhelmed — which is why teaming up with a skilled family law attorney is key to ensuring a fair support payment and helping you to understand what contributes to the total.
Factors that Can Contribute to Payment Amounts
Having touched on the idea that there are elements that can impact the final amount of child support being paid, it’s worth exploring what a few of these are and why.
Not all children have the same needs. While the Florida child support guidelines have been created with the intention of considering the majority of family situations, there will be times when this isn’t appropriate. We see this most often when the child is living with a disability, psychological illness, or learning challenges. In this case there may be additional expenses that impact the child’s care and these will be factored into payment amounts. This can also be applied to how long a parent is expected to pay child support for.
Change of Time Sharing
Relationships and circumstances within families can change. This can impact how many overnights a child may be spending with one parent. As per Florida law, the number of overnights can shift the percentage of the monthly costs each parent is expected to pay. If there is likely to be some fluctuation in the share of custody or one parent is no longer able to fulfil their previously agreed obligations, there may be a need to petition the court for changes in child support payments.
A certain amount of child support calculation is based on what a parent can realistically afford. In general, it is not the court’s intention to cause financial hardship, but to make sure that the child’s needs are taken care of. As such, there are financial obligations that can be taken into consideration when calculating the net income rate. This includes spousal support from prior and current marriages, union dues, retirement payments, and child support for other children.
To a certain extent, an agreement between parents can be taken into account when calculating child support. As previously stipulated, there is no option in Florida to completely waive child support, but the wishes of both parents can be considered by the presiding judge. However, if a judge considers the agreement unfair or that reduced child support from one parent could cause the child undue hardship, they can order the payment of child support regardless of the agreement between spouses.
These types of variances and extenuating circumstances can add a layer of complexity to your child support agreements. Particularly if they alter existing court orders, these need to be petitioned and sufficient supporting evidence provided. It is essential to talk to your In Law We Trust, P.A. family law attorney to establish what elements can impact child support responsibilities now and in the future so that they can make appropriate preparations on your behalf.
Handling a Non-Paying Former Spouse
It is a regrettable truth of the world we live in that nonpayment of child support is a common occurrence. While you can petition the courts yourself, this is no guarantee that enforcement will occur or be effective. This can be particularly difficult if your spouse has moved to a different state. That said, a family law attorney specializing in representing fathers can put together a strategy for making your representations to the court and recovering any backdated payments and compensation. Remember, child support is intended to make sure that your children continue to receive the care and nurturing they deserve, so it’s important to put in the proper groundwork to achieve success.
An Attorney Dedicated to Representing Fathers in Tampa
As a caring father, making sure your children do not suffer from the fallout of your divorce is naturally at the top of your agenda. While child support arrangements are not always straightforward, having an experienced and committed lawyer on hand will help. Call us to begin the representation of you and your family. We will promptly review the details of the case and provide you with the dependable court representation that you deserve. In Law We Trust, P.A. is a firm of compassion and expertise in Tampa child support for fathers. We will work very hard to help you achieve your child support goals.