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How Does Child Support Work in Fort Lauderdale?

— November 4, 2022

If the custodial parent marries someone with considerable financial means, you may try to get the child support you owe reduced.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Child support is, unfortunately, one of the main causes of disagreement between couples going through a divorce. According to Florida law, both parents are required to support their children until they reach the age of 18 or until they finish high school. The Sunshine State uses the “Income Shares Model” which means that the court will estimate the amount parents would spend on children if the family were still intact and living in one household, and then divide this amount between the parents based on their net incomes. The amount of child support each parent has to contribute also depends on custody arrangements. If the parents get shared custody and spend a roughly equal amount of time with the children, child support will be less than in those cases when the non-custodial parents only get the children for a couple of overnight stays every month. 

How is child support calculated in Florida?

Child support is usually dictated by a judge, using the Florida Child Support Guidelines, which take into account the income of both parents and the number of children they have. You can find various online calculators to estimate how much child support you will have to pay, but each case is different and there are many factors to take into account. If you are going through a divorce, you should reach out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale child support lawyer to understand what’s at stake. 

While they are required to use the general guidelines, Florida judges can review the figure upwards or downwards taking into account the particular circumstances of each case. For instance, if a child has special medical or educational needs, the judge might decide to impose a child support amount higher than what the algorithm dictates.

Woman tossing happy child in the air; image by Thiago Cerqueira, via
Woman tossing happy child in the air; image by Thiago Cerqueira, via

Another important reason why you should get counsel from a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer is that you need to establish all the income sources your ex has. For instance, if your ex makes money from tips, rent, dividends or gets certain benefits, these will probably not be included in the payslips. A skilled lawyer can investigate your former spouse’s financial circumstances and bring them to the attention of the judge so they can make an informed decision.

How can you change child support in Florida?

If you want to reduce the child support you owe, you will have to go through a family court. The same applies if the custodial parent wants more money from the non-custodial one. It can be a lengthy process, which is why divorcing couples should get help from a seasoned lawyer when they first make arrangements for their children.

If you request a change in your child support arrangement you will have to bring proof of a significant change in circumstances. For instance, if the non-custodial parent loses their job or has a serious health issue, they may not be able to afford the same level of child support originally agreed upon. Likewise, if one of the parents starts making way more money than they did at the time of their divorce, the other parent may be entitled to seek a modification of the child support agreement.

How does remarriage affect child support?

By itself, the fact that either parent decides to remarry should not affect child support. At least, not directly. 

As an example, if the non-custodial parent marries someone of significant financial means, the income of the step-parent is no reason to file for a modification of child support.  

If the custodial parent marries someone with considerable financial means, you may try to get the child support you owe reduced. However, the judge will not take into account the new spouse’s income directly, but will evaluate how this additional money influences the living expenses of the custodial parent.

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