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Broward County Family Law Blog

How is child support calculated in Florida?

In general, child support orders define obligations that parents have with regard to supporting their children. While many parents may be familiar with child support, they may also wonder how child support is calculated. In Florida, child support amounts are calculated based on child support guidelines. These guidelines seek to determine the amount of support a child needs and the amount of support a parent is required to pay.

While some parents may experience frustration with the child support system, the intention is to ensure that the children are properly cared for and that all required child support amounts are fair. Child support guidelines are not only utilized to determine the amount of support required by the initial child support order, but are also utilized to determine any changes that are necessary to the child support order based on a request by one of the parents for a child support modification. By utilizing child support guidelines, every effort is made to ensure fairness.

Child custody options can help children and families

The options available through the child custody process can help ensure child custody disputes are sorted out in a way that fulfills the best interests of the children and the family. Though everyone's circumstances are unique, some spouses may remain in a marriage for the benefit of the children. In some circumstances, however, this situation does not benefit the children. Children are often more aware of the family dynamics than their parents realize. It is important that spouses continue to communicate about the status of their relationship, even when things are going badly.

When parents have decided to end a marriage, there may be many concerns about child custody issues. Parents may fear that they will be unable to spend as much time with their children as they would like following the end of the marriage. It is important for divorcing spouses to keep in mind that, while child custody determinations are always made in the best interests of the children, by demonstrating a willingness to work together, parents can secure child custody arrangements that all parties can reasonably live with.

Guidelines for going through the Florida divorce process

Florida couples going through the divorce process can follow some general guidelines to produce amicable outcomes that all parties can live with. While no two relationships, marriages or divorces are exactly the same, divorces share in common that they do not necessarily have to be contentious. To better help the divorce process proceed smoothly, couples can avoid certain pitfalls.

Division of property is a significant aspect of any divorce. Child support and spousal support may also be significant considerations. This places finances in a critical position in the divorce process. Failing to produce accurate financial records can serve as a hindrance to a smooth and amicable process that likely includes property division and may also include other financial considerations. Tax considerations and other longer-term consequences can be implicated in any property division agreement so it is important to also keep tax considerations in mind.

What child visitation rights do grandparents have in Florida?

As society changes, grandparents may find themselves in unanticipated circumstances with their grandchildren. This may cause grandparents in Florida to wonder what their legal rights are in regards to visitation. Grandparents can petition the court for visitation rights of grandchildren and, in certain circumstances, courts will award reasonable visitation to grandparents when it is in the best interest of the child to do so.

Parents should work toward child custody agreements, if possible

During child custody determinations, parents can sometimes spend a significant amount of time battling over what is in the best interests of the children. Different considerations and strategies may factor into a child custody dispute. Many times, determining what considerations parents can agree on is a good strategy to achieve positive outcomes that may build on one another during the process of negotiating a parenting agreement.

When parents have an acrimonious relationship, and are having difficulty agreeing on anything, they may want to consider bringing on a party that can provide a neutral evaluation as to what would be best for the children. Other qualified professionals' help, including a mediator, may be available to assist parents to reach agreements that are in the best interests of the children.

What can be included in a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements sometimes have negative connotations. The reality is, however, that prenuptial agreements merely allow couples to decide for themselves, in advance, how divorce-related issues should be determined if the couple ends up divorcing. Because there are a variety of benefits to having a prenuptial agreement, individuals planning on marrying may wonder what can be included in a prenuptial agreement. A variety of important topics and considerations may be covered by a prenuptial agreement.

Just as it is important to plan in advance for the wedding and make necessary arrangements before the big day, it is also important to address a prenuptial agreement well in advance of the marriage. To begin with, it is important to list all assets and debts. The couple will need to determine how to characterize their property, so as to determine if it will remain separate or be treated as marital property in the event of divorce. In addition, a determination of reimbursements, or status as gifts, for separate property contributions also should be considered.

Child support is important for families struggling with poverty

Child support can sometimes be a difficult subject for families. In the United States, one in four children are due some amount of child support but only 62 percent of child support due in the U.S. is collected. Florida has one of the lower rates of collection. In addition, there exists a relationship between child support collection and poverty that points to the inability of some parents to afford child support payments. Those earning less than $10,000 annually accounted for 70 percent of the $70 billion in child support owed nationally in 2004.

On the other hand, it is usually the poorest families, in the greatest need of child support, that are not receiving it. Of parents who were supposed to receive child support in 2011, 27 percent lived below the poverty line. Of these parents, 40 percent received the child support they were due, however, 27 percent did not receive any of the child support they were due. This same group of parents, on average, relies on child support for half of their income.

Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade granted custody of nephew

Family issues can be complex, which is why an understanding of family law issues can be important for many families. Many Florida residents are probably familiar with Miami Heat basketball player Dwayne Wade, who was recently granted custody of his nephew.

Miami-Dade family court records state that Wade was recently granted custody the 12-year old boy. Wade had petitioned for "concurrent custody by extended family" of the boy and his petition was granted. Wade's sister, who is the child's mother, will retain parental rights but Wade will raise the child. The boy's father is unknown, according to Wade's petition, and no father is listed on the boy's birth certificate. Wade has spent a significant amount of time with the child in recent years. Wade also has custody of his two sons with his ex-wife and fathered a third child with another woman.

How child support guidelines affect Florida parents

The area of the law identified as family law is concerned with important family-related interests such as child support. Child support in Florida is calculated based on child support guidelines. Child support guidelines help determine the amount of financial support a child needs and what a non-custodial parent has to pay. One of the goals of Florida's child support guidelines is to ensure that child support agreements are fair. When determining child support, the court will consider the income of both parents, health care and child care costs for the child, and the standard needs of the child (the age of the child can be a factor).

Once child support has been calculated, a child support order is put in place that is enforceable against the paying parent. The parent receiving child support, usually the custodial parent, will be able to enforce the support agreement with the help of the government. The child support guidelines are used to initially determine child support and if a child support modification is requested by one of the parents to change the amount of child support.

License suspension possible for delinquent child support

Florida law requires parents to provide assistance by way of money to minor children. When parents are divorced, this comes from child support payments that are calculated during the divorce process. However, while for the most part parents who are party to such an agreement have every intention of meeting their financial obligations to their children, life events and other factors may inhibit their ability to keep up. If that is the case, though, there may be consequences beyond repayment.

For example, one potential negative consequence of failing to pay child support is a driver license suspension. If a parent is behind on payments, the Florida Department of Revenue, which is tasked with collecting money required by a child support order and distributing it to the appropriate parties, will send a notice by mail to a delinquent parent. The notice will alert that person of the possibility that a driver's license could be suspended if payment is not made.