Child support is a major issue in family law. Child support is part of divorce cases and paternity cases. Even dependency cases can have child support issues involved. As a Jacksonville child support lawyer, I have handled many cases involving support from both sides. The person receiving child support and the person paying child support typically just want an amount that is fair. Child support cannot be bargained away by the parents, as Florida law is clear that the right to child support belongs to the child and not the parents.
One child support issue that comes up sometimes is created by the scenario where the parent that has the child the majority of the time is not working. This issue comes up a lot more in paternity cases, but can be present in a divorce case, as well. Chapter 61, Florida Statutes and case law control how child support is handled. Florida law allows for income to be imputed to a person that doesn’t have a job or other source of income. The person paying support often is bothered that he or she is required to work and pay child support, while the recipient of child support sits at home and does nothing. In this situation, the court will sometimes treat the non-working parent as if he or she was working and use money that could be earned working 40 hours per week at minimum wage. Income can also be imputed to the person required to pay child support, even if he or she has no actual income.
Child support is based on a formula where each person’s earnings are used to produce an appropriate child support amount. So a parent without employment will be treated as if he or she is earning approximately $1300 per month in net income, rather than using $0 as his or her monthly income. Normally, this will decrease the amount of support due from the person paying child support. However, Florida law also allows the court that is imputing income to a non-working parent to consider what, if any, amount child care would cost in order for the person to work full time. The cost of childcare is high, and it will increase the overall child support number.