Child Support Attorneys In Longwood, FL

Florida recognizes that both parents are obligated to support their children. Support is determined by income, custody, insurance, and daycare expenses paid by both parents. In Florida, each parent has a fundamental obligation to support their minor children. Support is based on both parents’ combined net income and is estimated to be allocated to the children in an intact household.

Per Florida law, child support is due regardless of marital status, meaning it’s due in cases where parents are separated but still married, unmarried while residing separately, and when parents are divorced. In cases where the parties are not married, the legal process to establish child support requires a petition to determine paternity and other related relief.

Our family law attorneys have a deep knowledge of Florida’s laws on child support. The team at Vazquez & Stockmar, PLLC can provide legal guidance and representation to help ensure clients obtain the support best suited to their children’s unique circumstances. Contact us today to request a free consultation with an experienced attorney in Longwood!

Factors In Determining Child Support In Florida

Child support in divorce and paternity actions in Florida are governed by Florida Statute. The guidelines are determined by the State of Florida’s public policy. Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor children. Support is based on the parents’ combined net income estimated to be allocated to the children if there was an intact household.

  • Child Support Is Due Regardless Of Marital Status
  • Child Support Is Due For Separated Married Parents
  • Child Support Is Due For Unmarried Parents That Reside Separately
  • Child Support Is Due For Divorced Parents

Child support is due according to the Florida statute in cases where the parents are in the process of separating, regardless of marital status. Child support is the right of the child and there is a popular misconception that other paid expenses can be used to reduce child support. A court does have the authority to modify the statutory amount of child support, but there must be written findings and justification for the deviation. Child support can either be established through the divorce proceeding or if the parties are not married, this can be established by filing a Petition to Determine Paternity & Other Related Relief. Child support is a mathematical formula in Florida divorce & paternity actions and is determined by the following factors.

  • The Number Of Children
  • Number Of Overnights Per Year With Both Parents
  • Net Monthly Income Of Both Parents
  • Child Care Payments Made By Both Parents
  • Insurance Payments For Children Made By Both Parents

The family lawyers at Vazquez & Stockmar, PLLC can take the surprise out of child support amounts and can walk you through the technicalities of calculating these payments, so you are prepared and knowledgeable. In addition, there are various online child support calculators that can estimate support obligations if you have basic income information for both parents.

Income Included In Florida Child Support Calculations

Florida Statutes determine what income is included in child support calculations: Florida requires the monthly net income of both parents is calculated. The relative values are a key to determining child support. Florida has a broad definition of income when calculating child support. The court recognizes the following factors when computing gross income.

  • Salary or wages
  • Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments
  • Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts
  • Disability benefits
  • All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements
  • Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation
  • Pension, retirement, or annuity payments
  • Social security benefits
  • Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court-ordered in the marriage before the court
  • Interest and dividends
  • Rental income
  • Income from royalties, trusts, or estates
  • Reimbursed expenses or in-kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses
  • Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring

Allowable Deductions

Allowable deductions are subtracted from gross income to determine net income. Deductions that are allowed to be removed from gross income to calculate net income include but are not limited to:

  1. Federal, state, and local tax deductions
  2. Self-employment tax
  3. Federal insurance contributions
  4. Mandatory union dues
  5. Mandatory retirement payments
  6. Health insurance payment (not including payments for a minor child)
  7. Actual court-ordered support for another child that is being paid
  8. Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order

The monthly net income is added together for both parents to determine the combined net income. The schedule in Florida Statutes Ch. 61 then determines the amount of minimum total support between the parents.

Hiding Or Underreporting Income To Lower Child Support

Some parties will attempt to hide or underreport their income to their spouse to lower child support. A party that intentionally misrepresents their income to the court can be held in contempt, can be ordered to pay back child support, and can be ordered to pay attorney’s fees.

How Can You Prove A Spouse Is Hiding Or Underreporting Income?

You will need admissible evidence to prove that a spouse is underreporting or hiding income. Evidence that can prove underreporting income includes bank statements, pay stubs, and evidence of expenditures. This evidence can be obtained by discovery including interrogatories, requests for production of documents, subpoenas to employers, banks, and financial institutions.

Finding Hidden Assets

The discovery process can be used to find hidden assets. Tax returns can provide a wealth of information including second jobs, 1099 income, additional bank accounts, royalty income, foreign accounts, and other information. In addition, information can be obtained by subpoenaing brokerage accounts, bank records, and loan applications from your spouse. Reviewing the deposits and expenditures can give you a more accurate picture of your spouse’s income and assets.

Depositions can be useful to place your spouse or their accountant under oath to truthfully testify about their financial position.

In high net worth divorces, consider using a forensic accountant to help evaluate your spouse’s overall financial valuation.

Imputing Income For Child Support In Florida

Florida courts have the ability to impute income to one or both parents for determining Child Support. Florida courts will impute income when a parent is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed. Voluntary unemployment and underemployment may include the following listed below.

  • Quitting A Job To Pay Less In Child Support
  • Intentionally Being Fired From Current Employment
  • Reducing Their Work Hours Without A Medical Reason
  • Refusing To Seek Employment Or Refusing To Take Employment Opportunities
  • Turning Down A Promotion & Delaying The Receipt Of Bonuses
  • Working At Jobs Below What They Are Trained Or Licensed For To Reduce Their Income.

The income imputed in the child support calculation includes the amount a parent could reasonably expect to earn if he or she did work. Courts can review employment records, tax returns for the previous five years, pay stubs, and occupational qualifications. It is unfortunate a parent would become underemployed, quit a job, or hide income to avoid child support, however, the court allows a party to prove this wrongdoing and hold the parent accountable for their support obligations.

Florida Statute 61.30 2 (b) provides: “Monthly income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if such unemployment or underemployment is found by the court to be voluntary on that parent’s part, absent a finding of fact by the court of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control.”

If a court finds that the underemployment or unemployment is a result of physical or mental incapacity or other severe circumstances, a court will not impute income to the party.

The test for imputing income is a two-step process. First, a court must find the unemployment or underemployment was voluntary. Second, a court must also find that the spouse intentionally remains underemployed unemployed by failing to adequately pursue employment.

Vazquez & Stockmar, PLLC is a law firm serving Central Florida. Our attorneys offer dependable services in several legal disciplines, including probate, estate planning, and family law. Get in touch with us today to request a free consultation!