Florida Child Support and Time Sharing

Child support in Florida is impacted by time sharing pursuant to the child support guidelines.

Keeping Pace With Time Sharing In Florida:  Florida’s Child Support Statute Finally Amended!

Parents fighting over custody of their child or children was supposed to become an archaic notion in Florid,a with the advent of Parenting Plans and Time Sharing. 

Prior to the amendment of section 61.13, Florida Statues (2009), one parent would generally be designated the “primary residential parent” (or custodian) and the other parent the “secondary residential parent,” with rights of visitation. 

According to the amended statute section, neither parent is designated as primary or secondary and both will have “time sharing” with their child. 

However, the amendment proved more to be form over substance, especially since parents continued to war, not over custody but over the amount of “time sharing.”.

Florida’s child support statute is Section 61.30, Florida Statutes, or what is commonly referred to as the “guidelines.”  According to Section 61.30, if a parent receives “substantial” time sharing (defined as 40% or more of the overnights), then his or her child support obligation may be reduced. 

For example, if during any two-week period, a parent receives 6 out of 14 overnights (43% of the overnights), then his or her monthly obligation is reduced (as opposed to if he or she received only 5 overnights during the same two-week period, or 35% of the overnights).  

Reducing child support, if a parent receives 6 out of 14 overnights but not 5 out of 14 overnights is inequitable and is primarily the reason why parents have continued to argue over the amount of time.

Effective January 2011, substantial time sharing is now defined as 20% or more of the overnights (as opposed to 40% or more). 

Let’s put this information into perspective.  Assume a parent (A) earns $ 4,000.00 take home (after taxes) and the other parent (B) earns $ 3,000.00 take home, total combined being $7,000.00 per month. 

The parties have one (1) minor child, and “A” has been afforded time sharing on alternating weekends (to include Friday afternoon until Monday morning plus Wednesday and Thursday overnights during the week preceding “B’s” weekend, for a total of 5 overnights per two weeks (which is 35% of the overnights).  

The father’s child support obligation:

Pre-amendment section 61.30

Combined Available Income:                                             $ 7,000.00

Basic Obligation for one (1) child per the guidelines:           $ 1,212.00

Father’s percentage share ($ 4,000/ $ 7,000)              57%, or  $  691.00

Mother’s percentage share ($ 3,000/ $ 7,000)             43%, or  $  521.00

Amended section 61.30

Combined Available Income:                                            $  7,000.00

Basic Obligation for one (1) child per the guidelines:                                                                     $  1,212.00

Father’s percentage share ($ 4,000/ $ 7,000)              57%, or $  691.00

Mother’s percentage share ($ 3,000/ $ 7,000)             43%, or $  521.00

Gross up:                              Father                                      Mother

                                         $  691.00                                 $  521.00

                                         X       1.5                                 X       1.5

                                        $ 1,035.00                               $  780.00

Percentage of overnights        X   .65  (Mother's)                   X   .35 (Father's)

                                          $  672.75                                 $  273.00

Difference between the two figures is the child support obligation (Father’s):                               $ 399.75/ month

So, from the foregoing, you can readily see the difference(s) between the former and the amended statute section.  Under the former, the “A” would pay $ 690.00 per month in child support, exclusive of day/after care and health insurance; under the amended, “A” would pay a reduced amount of $ 399.75, a difference of $ 290.25 per month.

Section 61.30, Florida Statutes, contains other important revisions, most particularly, concerning the imputation of income to a parent who may be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. 

 If information concerning a parent’s recent work history, occupational qualifications and prevailing earnings level in the community is not available to determine his/her income at the time child support is being established, then the Court shall automatically impute income to that parent at the median income level. 

In order to impute a higher amount (above the median wage), then the parent seeking to impute income to the other has the burden of proving up voluntariness and the amount and source of the imputed income (such as current jobs in the community).  Further, the parent seeking to impute income may also bring evidence of the other parent’s current licensure and request the court to consider what the other parent is capable of making in the market even if the imputed amount exceeds historical earnings.  

If you need more information on Florida’s recent amendments to section
61.30, Florida Statutes (child support), then please feel free to call me at
727/ 895-5858.  I do provide for a FREE
initial consultation.  Or, you may blog
with me at www.goodmanatlaw.com.  I welcome all comments and inquiries.

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Susan Long December 18, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Interesting. How does one account for the fact that only one parent pays for all the after-school activities regardless of the time spent? Or one parent is always responsible for all the "back-to-school expenses? There is no "pre" method to allocate child support fairly. The parent who takes the most responsibility for the children (forget time) is the one who gets screwed when the allocation is strictly based on time. Time alone is not what costs one, it is all the other stuff. Time off work to get the kid who has just had a car accident, repairing the teenager's car, staying home with the child when the child is sick and not in school. None of this is accounted for in the "time" allocation.
garth goodman, esq. December 18, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Dear Parent: You have pointed out one of the main difficulties with the child support guidelines. The Guidelines generally provide for the basic necessities of a minor child(ren) such as the child's share of the rent/ mortgage, utilities, food, telephone, etc (household expenses). Clothing and extra-curricular activities of a child are not considered special needs and the guidelines do not call for an increase in the basic obligation as a result of additional clothing expenses and/ or activities of the child. One would hope that the other parent would contribute towards these additional expenses since these expenses benefit the child. Florida law now provides for Parenting Plans, which also include a provision for sharing extra-curricular activities and other matters associated with those activities. If the parties cannot agree, then the parent wanting the activity is usually solely responsible for the additional expense. Bear in mind that child support is always subject to review (what we call "modification") if a substantial change in circumstance has arisen, such as increases in income of the obligor parent and/ or increased needs of the child(ren). I hope this helps. If you have other specific questions, please feel free to give me a call or email me at garth@goodmanatlaw.com. Thank you
Derek December 19, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I wanted to ask if you meant that the change to substantial timesharing goes into effect in January 2013. In the article it says it goes into effect January 2011 which is almost 2 years ago. Also is there a website that allows one to enter the time-sharing and income figures then computes the child support obligation?
garth goodman, esq. December 20, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Hello Derek. The change went into effect January, 2011 and is still fresh in the minds of the legal community. I am not aware of any website that allows one to calculate the time sharing and child support based on the amount of time sharing. The real issue in regards to the impact of time sharing has more to do with the income of the respective parents; and if someone is voluntarily under or unemployed, how much income should be imputed to him/ her. Also, the criteria of section 61.13, Florida Statutes would need to be reviewed and applied to the particulars of one's situation to determine the time sharing arrangement in the best interests of the children. Simply calculating the child support based on the amount of time sharing is simple enough for the attorney(s) but the real work is a review of the financials and the particulars and nuance(s) of the parents' situation. Please feel free to email me directly to further discuss at garth@goodmanatlaw.com or call at 727/ 895-5858. Thank you.


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