.

Child Support: Florida Guidelines

Child support is established in accordance with Florida's child support guidelines. If a parent is voluntarily un- or under-employed, income may be imputed to him/ her.

Issue: 

Child support is established by looking at the parents’ respective net incomes and factoring in health insurance premiums, day/ after care incidental to employment or an educational pursuit, and any specialized need(s) of the minor child(ren).  

The amount of time sharing between a parent and child(ren) is also a factor to be
considered.  What if a parent is not working?  Does he/ she still have an obligation to pay support and, if so, how do you establish the amount of support owed?


Scenario:

Parent “A” is a 32-year-old paramedic earning about $ 40,000 annually after 5 years of employment experience, with full benefits.  

Parent “B” is a 30 year old registered nurse, who obtained her nursing degree one year earlier and is earning $ 38,000 annually with benefits.  The parties have been married for 5 years and have one child, who is now 4 years old and entering VPK.  

“A” is burned out from his job so he voluntarily resigns his position to go back to school to become a registered nurse.   If “A” goes full time to school, he will obtain his nursing certificate in 2 years with a comparable earning capacity as when he was a paramedic.  A’s decision to resign eventually causes friction between “A” and “B” and they separate.   The child stays in the Home with “B.”  What is “A’s” support obligation?

Answer:

Both parents have a legal duty of support for their minor child.  Their respective child support obligations are established in accordance with Florida’s guidelines.  Section 61.30, Florida Statutes.    However, in this scenario, “A” is unemployed having resigned from his position as a paramedic earning $ 40,000 annually.  

A court may “impute income” to a parent if he or she is voluntarily un- or under-employed.  Here, “A” is clearly voluntarily unemployed having resigned to pursue his nursing certification claiming that he was burned out from being a paramedic and wanted to do something different in the medical field.  In this instance, the Court may impute income to “A” based on his “employment potential and probable earnings level . . . . based on his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community . . . .”   Section
61.30(2)(b), Florida Statutes.  If the Court imputes income to "A", perhaps at the $ 40,000 level earned by "A" before he resigned, then "A's" child support obligation will be established even though he is currently not working.

“A” may argue that income should not be imputed to him at this time since he is pursuing an education to further or advance his career.  The prevailing law on this issue is that income should not be imputed to a parent if that parent’s reduction in income is due to an educational pursuit which will ultimately benefit the parties’ minor child.   So, if “A” is voluntarily unemployed, does his pursuit of a nursing degree enhance his earning potential beyond that level he was earning as a paramedic?   No, this would not be the case since both positions (paramedic and nursing) in this scenario have similar earning capacities with benefits.   Therefore, a court would probably impute income to “A” even though he is not actually working at the time.  

The conclusion might be different if “A” were earning $ 12 per hour as an emergency medical technician and wanted to pursue his education as a paramedic or nurse.  In this instance, “A” could enhance his earning potential within a reasonable period of time;  and, most importantly, the subject Child would still be a very young child who would benefit by the increase in “A’s” earning capacity. 



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Samuel Clemens February 02, 2013 at 02:07 AM
Man, I love the involvement of the State in every aspect of life.
garth goodman, esq. February 02, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Hello Michelle. Yes, first we must determine the basic obligation. Let's say the parents each make $ 2,000 take home for a combined $ 4,000.00 net available income. The guideline amount for one child is X; for two children it would be a larger amount (Y), and so forth. In this example, assuming 2 children, each parent has a basic obligation of 50% of the guideline amount (Y) since each makes $ 2,000 of the $ 4,000 total. The guidelines then permit the Court to add the other parent's share of day/ after care; health insurance and uncovereds; and any special needs of the minor child(ren) to that parent's support obligation. Showing you the actual guidelines makes the foregoing alot more clearer.
garth goodman, esq. February 02, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Hello David. Your friends' two situations seem like nightmare scenarios. I usually tell people not to assume that child support is not always simple arithmetic. If someone is self-employed such as the person with a detailing company, then the true extent of his income would need to be scrutinized. For example, just because he takes in $ 100,000 in gross receipts does NOT mean he is paying himself or has available to pay himself $ 100,000. In order to make money, you have to spend money on advertising, cost of goods sold, salaries, insurances, etc. These are all deductions from this person's income. I am curious if this was even explored? As for the lady married to a doctor, one cannot simply get out of paying child support by moving. Child support can follow anyone anywhere. She needs to be persistent and vigilant. If he is a doctor, she can collect on back support and enforce current support against the doctor's income and assets. Courts do not take very kind to someone who as the ability to pay support and promote the quality of life of a child(ren) and not meet that basic obligation. If this lady you know needs assistance and she is here in Pinellas/ Hillsborough/ Manatee Counties, then have her give me a call for a free consult at 727/ 895-5858 or email me at garth@goodmanatlaw.com. Thank you for your comments.
Cristine Kreplick February 04, 2013 at 07:37 AM
Parents divorced and mother has 100% custody.Father lives out of state. For 10 years. They originally came to a child support arrangement independently of the state. BUT, it was overlooked at the time that the child will turn 18 in the beginning of the senior year of high school. Does the non-custodial parent have a legal (if not ethical) responsibility to continue support at least until high school is complete (or until college is complete?) The custodial parent certainly isn't going to kick the child out on it's birthday... The child is 15 now. Would it be a good idea to have the agreement reviewed by an attorney now before it gets closer? Thanks!
garth goodman, esq. February 04, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Florida law does provide for the support of a dependent child(ren) if that child turns 18 and is still in High School with a reasonable expectation of graduation prior to his/ her 19th birthday. This would create a "legal" duty of support. I assume your "agreement" has not been approved and ratified by a court as if a court order? Notwithstanding, I would want to discuss your calculation of the child support obligation; whether the guidelines were properly applied; any impact of time sharing; and, yes, the term of support. Please feel free to call my Office at 727/ 895-5858 to further discuss. I do provide for a free initial consultation. Or,, you can email me at garth@goodmanatlaw.com. Thank you.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »