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Child Support Attorneys in Melbourne, FL

Putting Your Children First

When navigating a divorce with children involved, your highest priority should be their best interests. At the Figueroa Law Group, P.A., we put our clients’ children first. Our child support lawyers in Melbourne, FL compassionately assist clients through the processes of drafting parenting plans and calculating child support payments.

Child Support in Florida

Florida’s public policy is that each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her “minor” or “legally dependent child”. A legally dependent child means any unemancipated person under the age of 18, any person under the age of 21 and still in school, or any person who is mentally or physically incapacitated when such incapacity began before such person reaching the age of 18. This is not to impose an obligation for child support beyond the child’s age of majority unless an exception in section 409.2561 of the Florida Statues applies.

Ordinarily, a child support order or a duty to pay child support terminates automatically on the child’s 18th birthday unless otherwise addressed, agreed between the parties or court order. The termination of a legal duty to support a child also includes support for medical services or insurance.

Although Florida has it’s own public policy the Federal Supremacy Clause requires a Florida Court to give full faith and credit to and will enforce a foreign support order even if enforcement of the foreign support order violates Florida’s public policy concerning a child’s right to support. A foreign support order is an order entered in another state or jurisdiction.

Child support may be ordered up to 24 months preceding the filing of the petition. This is called retroactive child support. This applies whether it is for a modification of child support or the filing of a petition. The court may deviated more than 5%. The court can deviate more than 5% only with written findings explaining why ordering payment of said guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate. It is important to have an attorney guide you through this process whether for the establishment of child support, the calculation of retroactive child support or a deviation more than 5%.

Florida provides a mathematical formula for determining child support that considers the amount of overnight time-sharing. The net income of the parties is used for calculating child support. Net income for purposes of calculating child support is not the same as net income for federal income tax purposes. In Florida, child support calculations start with the parties’ incomes from all sources which can include bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime and tips. Sometimes in certain situations overtime that is regular is also included. Also gift income in certain situations can be included when there is evidence that the gift income is likely to continue into the future. Another component is business income from self-employment, partnership, close corporations and independent contracts. The courts also include monies received from disability benefits, worker’s compensation benefits and unemployment compensation as income. Additionally, social security, pension, retirement, annuity payments, rental income minus ordinary and necessary expenses and investment income are included in determining a party’s income. Also income from royalties, trusts and estates are included. If a party received in-kind expenses or reimbursed expenses to the extent they reduce living expenses can be included as income. In some situations spousal support received from a previous marriage or ordered in the marriage before the court.

It is important that alimony is calculated first before the child support calculation is made.

If one parent is underemployed or unemployed the court can impute income if the unemployed or underemployed parent is voluntary. A finding of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has not control is not considered voluntary. Imputation of income can be complex and requires the assistance of a skilled an experienced attorney and in certain circumstances may include an expert vocational evaluator.

If the parent how owes child support is incarcerated income may or may not be imputed depending on the circumstances which a skilled attorney can advise you.

Child support may be awarded on a temporary basis while the case is pending and also on an ongoing basis at the time of the final hearing.

When awarding child support, courts consider:

  • The costs of health and dental insurance
  • Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
  • Daycare expenses
  • Which parent can claim child tax credit
  • The parties’ net income after taxes
  • Which parent is entitled to earned income credit
  • Which parent can claim head of household

To arrive at a net income a calculation must be made as to allowable deductions from the gross income which includes:

  1. Federal, state and local income taxes
  2. FICA and Medicare taxes
  3. Mandatory Union Dues
  4. Mandatory Retirement (must not be voluntarily assumed and endanger or place in jeopardy the employment)
  5. Child’s health insurance costs
  6. Prior child support order not a child born after the support obligation is imposed.

Whether you are paying or receiving child support, it is important that all calculations are performed accurately. This will ensure that the child support award is fair, reasonable, and sufficient to adequately care for the child. To ensure the payment of child support an Income Withholding Order and Income Deduction Order may be ordered by the court.

Our Melbourne, FL child support attorneys can carefully guide you through the calculations. We will assist you in determining whether you wish to pay or receive child support through an income withholding order or have payment directly received or made directly to the other parent. Our attorneys will carefully draft the language of a settlement or advocate for you in court for the proper payment to avoid unnecessary litigation after your case is completed.

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Please note that a small fee will be charged for the initial consultation.

Please note that a small fee will be charged for the initial consultation.

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