Big Change to the Child Support Guidelines

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Wednesday, May 14, 2014.

Florida’s divorce guidelines were just changed. The latest amendment allows parents to deviate from the guidelines because of their verbal timesharing schedule. Before they couldn’t. Effective July 1st, now they can.

We’ve been doing child support all wrong. The basic way to run child support is to calculate the combined monthly net income of both parents, the number of children and establish the minimum amount of support. The amount increases for child care and health insurance expenses.

The guidelines are the presumptive award, and courts can only deviate if certain factors in the law are met. One of these factors is the timesharing schedule – if a child spends a significant amount of time with one parent, or a parent refuses to be involved in a child’s activities.

About two years ago, a couple verbally agreed to a 50-50 timesharing schedule and tried to reduce child support based on their agreed schedule. The First District Court of Appeal reviewed the child support order granting their request and reversed!

The parents did not have a court-ordered parenting plan, they just decided it themselves. You know, like adults do. The appellate court reversed their order because the old statute did not authorize deviations based on verbal agreed timesharing schedules.

The First District then reversed around a dozen more such child support cases over the next year. Sadly for the parents who wisely chose to agree to timesharing schedules, they were being told they must go to court, spend money, and litigate the issue when they had agreements.

This latest amendment to the child support guidelines revises the circumstances in which a court may deviate from the guidelines.

After the amendment, a court can deviate from the child support guidelines based on a child’s visitation with a parent as provided in a court-ordered time-sharing schedule OR the time-sharing schedule exercised by the parents.

The bill, CS/SB 104, was just passed by Governor Scott on Monday of this week, and becomes law effective July 1, 2014. The new law will resolve a big problem that has plagued a lot of Florida families, and one that just didn’t make sense.

The details of CS/SB 104 can be read here.