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Tampa Child Support FAQ’s

1. How is child support calculated in Florida?

Military mother and daughter doing a puzzle togetherThe state uses a formula known as the Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of child support. The combined net incomes of both spouses and the number of children are used to calculate the total support needed for the children – and then the court will decide how much support the non-custodial parent will pay. Note that the living expenses of the parent paying child support are usually not considered when calculating the amount to be paid.

2. Does the court have any leeway with the Child Support Guidelines?

Typically, the court may vary from the guidelines by around 5% – unless there are special circumstances that the guidelines don’t account for, such as a special needs child with additional medical expenses. Other possible factors include the presence of children born or adopted after child support was established, or a non-custodial parent who spends a substantially larger amount of time with the children than the typical custody arrangement assumes.

3. What if my spouse doesn’t report all of his income to the court?

If your spouse doesn’t declare all of his income when the Child Support Guidelines are being applied, you need to show proof of this omission in order to make sure all income is counted. If you know your spouse makes more than his records show, your attorney may be able to help advise you on what type of documentation could demonstrate this to the court.

4. I want to stay at home with my small children, but I’ve heard the courts can say I should be capable of putting them in daycare to get a paying job. Is this true?

If your spouse can show that you make less income than you are capable of earning, it is true that the court can “impute” income to you – meaning the Court can calculate how much money you could be making and take that into consideration when calculating child support or alimony. However, in the case of a parent who wishes to stay at home and provide care to young children, it’s up to the court’s discretion whether or not to impute income. Often this issue is instigated by the non-custodial spouse who wants to pay less child support – and your spouse’s attorney may try to establish that you have quality childcare options available and a high earning potential. If you think your spouse may raise this as an argument, you should make your own attorney aware of this as a possible factor.

5. How can I get my ex-spouse to pay child support?

If your spouse stops paying child support, you must file a motion to place him or her in contempt of court. After the court grants this motion, there are several punitive measures that may be taken to enforce the child support order, including jail time, driver’s license suspension, and even suspension of professional licenses.

6. I never married the father or mother of my child – can I still get him or her to pay child support now that he or she has left our home?

Marriage isn’t a requirement for paternity, so you still have grounds for trying to win child support. If your child’s father won’t acknowledge paternity, you will need scientific testing (such as DNA testing) to establish that he is the father of your child. Once paternity is established, child support and time-sharing (formerly known as custody and visitation) are treated similarly to a regular divorce case. An experienced Florida divorce attorney can advise you on how to initiate the process of establishing paternity.

7. If my final divorce hearing isn’t for several months and I need money now to care for my children, what are my options?

You can request an order from the court for temporary child support, alimony, visitation rights or custody if your spouse isn’t cooperating and you need assistance before your final hearing. Consult an experienced Florida divorce attorney for advice on how to request a temporary order.

8. Can the amount of child support change if I lose my job?

The court will consider modifying child support agreements when a significant change in financial circumstances occurs. Loss or a drastic reduction of the non-custodial parent’s income may constitute such a change – as would a sudden increase in the custodial spouse’s income.

We Can Help!

If you have other questions about Florida child support, the Caveda Law Firm, P.A., has answers. We have been helping residents of Tampa, Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County for more than 15 years.

Contact us today at (813) 336-5690!