Child Support: Who Will Pay? How Much?

Children are a blessing, but raising them is expensive. As an unmarried or divorcing parent, support matters are a primary concern. "Who will pay?" and "How much?" are two questions that cause significant stress, often due to uncertainty or misinformation.

With Cruz & Bano, P.A., we can answer all of your questions about child support. We always offer free initial consultations to discuss your concerns with a lawyer. By the time yours ends, you will have a good estimate of which spouse will pay and how much.

If you have questions about child support or other family law matters, we encourage you to call our office in Orlando at 407-459-1293 to schedule your free initial consultation.

How Does The Court Determine Who Will Pay What Amount?

Child support is not a matter of who deserves to pay, but a determination of both parents' legal obligation to support their child. The practical reality is that only one parent needs to write a check.

Below are the basic steps for child support determinations:

  • Step 1: Determine the net support obligation. A judge will calculate an overall support obligation that takes into account the income of both parents and number of children covered by the order. The judge can add to the total additional costs for day care, health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for medical, dental and vision care.
  • Step 2: Determine each parent's share of the obligation. Each parent owes a percentage of the obligation based on their income or ability to pay. For example, if dad earns 60 percent of the income, he is responsible for 60 percent of the obligation.
  • Step 3: Determine who the custodial parent is and who the noncustodial parent is. The judge looks at the number of overnights the child or children spend with each parent. The parent with fewer nights is the noncustodial parent and will most often write the check.
  • Step 4: Make any necessary adjustments. The judge will look at the final obligation and deviate or adjust the amount for many reasons. These could include extraordinary medical expenses, travel costs necessary for visitation, disparity of income between the parents, whether a parent has other child support obligations and tax implications.

Support Obligations End When Your Child Turns 18

Under Florida family law, your legal obligation ends when your child turns 18, NOT when the child graduates from high school or college. A judge can extend it in very limited circumstances usually involving a special-needs child.

The only way a parent can extend an obligation beyond the age of 18 is through a voluntary, written agreement. Both parents must agree and both parents must sign the agreement. A judge cannot order an extension based on a single parent's request.

Don't Rely On A Calculator Online. Talk To An Attorney.

Child support calculators are available online. Do not let the results scare you and don't rely on them. They are estimates of the net support obligation and are based on broad assumptions that do not account for possible adjustments that may apply in your case.

Only rely on the advice of a knowledgeable family law attorney. You can reach ours by calling 407-459-1293 or completing the form online. We offer free initial consultations. Hablamos español.