On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
“When calculating child support, what role does my spouse’s income play in determining the amount of child support?” This is the question our Fort Lauderdale child support lawyer gets to answer more often than you would expect. In fact, this question comes from both the spouse on the receiving end and the paying end.
Let’s put an end to the speculation surrounding the role of spouses’ income when calculating child support in Florida. When it comes to determining the amount of child support after a divorce, a family court in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Florida relies on a wide range of hard and fast rules outlined in Florida’s child support guidelines.
How Do Florida Courts Calculate Child Support?
And, as you can imagine, the parents’ income is front and center of child support calculations. Unlike many other states, Florida follows the income shares model when calculating the amount of child support. Other states, meanwhile, follow either the percentage of income model or the Melson formula.
Our experienced child support attorney in Fort Lauderdale from The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A., explains that the percentage of income model only considers the non-custodial parent’s income, while the Melson formula is intended to ensure that each parent’s basic needs are met when awarding child support.
As for the income shares model, which is used by Florida family courts when determining the amount of child support, this model is meant to ensure that the child receives the same portion of his or her parents’ income that he/she would have received had the parents remained married.
In other words, not only do Florida courts consider child-related costs such as education, healthcare, food, clothing, and other costs associated with the child’s needs and necessities, but also the income of both parents.
What Is Considered ‘Income’ When Determining Child Support?
Many divorcing parents in Florida are confused about what really constitutes “income” under state law. Under Florida’s child support guidelines, a parent’s income is any source of money such as salary, wages, bonuses, commissions, disability benefits, business income, Social Security benefits, income from rentals, as well as other types of benefits and compensation.
It may not be clear what will and will not be calculated as “income” when determining child support in your particular case, which is why you may want to seek legal help from a Fort Lauderdale child support attorney in order to ensure that the court’s calculations are correct.
Can You Quit Your Job to Avoid Paying Child Support?
While some divorced parents who were ordered to pay child support after divorce think that they can avoid paying child support by voluntarily quitting their job, you may want to think twice before voluntarily becoming unemployed or underemployed.
“This is hardly the solution,” says our experienced child support lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. “That’s because parents who voluntarily quit their job or reduce their income simply to avoid paying child support will still be required to pay the same amount of child support as they would if they were fully employed.”
However, you may be able to avoid having to pay child support or significantly reduce the amount of child support if you can prove that losing your job or taking a pay cut was beyond your control (for example, your physical or mental incapacity prevented you from keeping your job or being paid the same wages as before).
How Does Remarriage Affect Child Support in Florida?
“Okay, but what if one of the parents gets remarried while receiving child support payment? Would it have any impact on the amount of child support or would it terminate it altogether?” you may be wondering.
Contrary to popular belief, Florida courts do not consider the new spouse’s income when calculating or modifying child support. In fact, the payor will most likely not be able to terminate or reduce the amount of child support even if the other parent’s new spouse earns substantially more than the child’s parent.
However, if the remarriage does cause a parent’s employment to change, this may qualify as a substantial change in circumstances, which, in turn, may lead to modification or termination of child support.
Do you have more questions about how child support is calculated in Florida? Schedule a free consultation with our lawyers at The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A., to discuss your case. Call our offices for a free case evaluation.