Family Law FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions and answers related to family law, which includes divorce, child custody (now more commonly referred to as time sharing or parenting plans), child support, alimony, and division of assets and liabilities.

To learn more about legal issues related to your specific situation, contact the family law attorneys at Saunders Law Group in Bartow today.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

Each of the parties' gross income from work and/or investments is determined. Deducted from this gross amount are the parties' federal income taxes, Social Security payments, Medicare taxes and other statutorily permitted deductions such as mandatory retirement, mandatory union dues and medical insurance. This is called "net" income. Once the parties' "net" income is determined, a parent will know with relative certainty the amount of child support that will be required of the paying parent based on the child support guidelines located at Chapter 61, Florida Statutes.

How Do Costs Of Day Care And Health Insurance Affect Child Support?

Child support calculations also take into consideration which party provides health insurance for the child and which party pays for day care or after-school care. Usually, one parent makes the health insurance or day care payment but the child support calculations have the effect of sharing this expense between the parties since the child support calculations provided by statute factor these expenses into the child support payment amount. The practical effect of these calculations allows for the sharing of these expenses between the parents even though one parent actually may write the check for day care or health insurance.

How Does Visitation (Time Sharing) With Children Affect Child Support?

In any case with child support issues, there is almost certainly going to be an issue or issues involving visitation. A parent wanting visitation with his or her child will request that the court establish what is known as a "parenting plan." A parenting plan is merely a written document incorporated into a Final Judgment or Order of the Court that establishes the times a parent may be with the child.

If a parent spends significant time with the child, the Child Support Guidelines can reduce the amount of child support owed. This reduction simply takes into account the fact that a parent spending significant time with the child is providing direct support to that child for things like food, housing, clothes, etc., while the child is present in the home of the visiting parent. The more time a parent actually spends with the child, the less child support will be owed to the other parent.

Similarly, when one parent is not spending time with the child, child support amounts can actually be increased by the court to take into account the fact that one parent is not providing any direct support for the child.

Can Failure To Pay Child Support Be Used To Deny Visitation (Time Sharing)?

It is not uncommon for a parent from whom child support is owed to stop paying child support for one reason or another. Many times, the parent who is supposed to be receiving child support payments from the other parent finds themselves in a situation where no child support is being paid, but the nonpaying parent still wants to visit with the child under the parenting plan established by the court.

The parent not receiving child support understandably wants to withhold visitation to the nonpaying parent as an inducement to force delivery of the child support check.

Courts generally will not permit a denial of visitation even when child support payments are owed. Child support obligations and visitation are considered separate issues by the court. If child support payments are owed, the courts are available to force payment in a variety of ways but the courts will require that visitation continue while the child support issue is resolved.

How Is Child Support Enforced?

If child support is not being paid, the parent who is owed child support will be able to file with the court motions directed to forcing payment of the monies owed. Courts take a very dim view when dealing with parents who owe child support since many times the obligation to support a child falls on the taxpayers in the absence of support from the parent.

A parent owed child support has a variety of tools available to force payment. The court can garnish wages, garnish IRS refunds or force the sale of certain assets from which child support can be paid. In appropriate circumstances, the courts have the power to place the nonpaying parent in jail until such a time as the child support monies owed are paid.