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Family Law Lawyer discusses Common Child Support Mistakes

When dealing with family law matters involving minor children in Florida, calculating child support is crucial. Florida’s approach to child support follows a statutory formula designed to ensure fair contributions from both parents. However, recent legal updates, including the 50/50 time-sharing rule, have further shaped how child support is determined. It’s essential to avoid common pitfalls in this process and understand how new laws may impact your situation.

Here are the top 5 common child support mistakes that you should avoid:

1. Misconception About Expenses as Child Support

It’s a common belief that directly paying for a child’s common expenses, such as clothing or school fees, can be credited towards child support. However, the Florida courts typically view these contributions as gifts rather than child support. Direct payments for other expenses are often not counted towards your child support obligations.

Tip: Always make payments through official channels. If you are paying child support directly to your spouse, be sure to place “child support” in the memo line of the check or money order, so there is no dispute as to whether you should receive credit for the payment. 

2. Failing to Keep Proof of Payment

Trust can easily erode once legal proceedings begin. Always document your child support payments with checks or electronic transfers that offer clear records. This documentation is your best defense against any claims of unpaid support.

Tip: Maintain a detailed record of all child support payments, including dates, amounts, and modes of payments. This documentation can be crucial in disputes or modifications of child support orders.

3. Overlooking Child Care and Insurance Expenses

The child support formula in Florida accounts for both childcare costs and health insurance premiums for the child. Neglecting to claim these expenses can significantly alter the child support calculation. Be sure to provide detailed information about these costs to your attorney.

Tip: Secure a detailed breakdown of your health insurance premiums and childcare costs. Present this information to your attorney to ensure these expenses are accurately factored into your child support calculation.

4. Ignoring Extracurricular and Uncovered Medical Expenses

Beyond basic support, you may also be responsible for sharing the costs of your child’s extracurricular activities and uninsured medical expenses. Many times, parenting plans do not include these costs and expenses.

Tip: Ensure your parenting plan outlines how extracurricular and medical expenses not covered by insurance are shared. Clarify which activities are included and how unforeseen expenses will be managed to prevent disputes and ensure financial preparedness.

5. Delaying Child Support Modification Requests

Income changes can greatly affect your ability to pay child support. Florida law requires you to file a Petition for Modification to adjust your child support obligations in case of changes in income. Failing to do so can lead to accrued debt that cannot be retroactively adjusted.

Tip: File for a modification of your child support order as soon as your income significantly decreases to avoid accumulating arrears. Timely action can lead to retroactive adjustments and prevent legal consequences for unpaid support.

Recent Legal Updates:

50/50 Time-Sharing Rule: A significant legal update in Florida is the introduction of the 50/50 time-sharing rule, emphasizing an equal sharing of parental time. This change can significantly impact child support calculations, as the law assumes that both parents will incur equal expenses in raising their child. However, the actual impact on child support varies depending on each parent’s income, the child’s needs, and other relevant factors.

In light of these updates, anyone going through a family law matter in Florida should seek the advice of a competent family law attorney. Legal guidance is crucial for determining child support, especially with recent changes emphasizing time-sharing arrangements. An attorney can help you understand your obligations, avoid common mistakes, and ensure you prioritize your child’s needs according to the law.

Ready to avoid mistakes in your child support calculations? Connect with Dewitt Law Firm for precise guidance!