Child support is an issue that must be addressed by the parties whenever minor or dependent children are involved in a family case. Florida Statutes §61.30 sets forth the Child Support Guidelines, the basic starting place for all child support calculations. The calculation of child support typically takes into consideration the income earned by both parents from all sources, the taxes paid by each parent, the cost of each parent's medical insurance, and the cost of the children's medical insurance. Child support typically covers the cost of a child's basic necessities, such as housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, the cost of the children’s medical insurance, and the number of overnights the children will spend with each parent. Child support typically does not cover the costs of a child's private school education, medical expenses that are not paid for by medical insurance, tutoring, private lessons, therapies, extra-curricular activities, cars, quinces, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, religious educations and celebrations and other similar extraordinary expenses. These expenses should be discussed by the parents and they should agree on how they will be paid in a settlement agreement, to avoid future disputes.
An obligation to pay child support typically ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school if the child is expected to graduate before reaching 19 years of age. There are other circumstances under which a child support obligation can terminate. How and when a child support obligation will end should also be addressed in a settlement agreement. While a judge in Florida does not have the power to order a parent to continue paying for a child's expenses after the child reaches 18 years of age, such as college expenses, the parents can enter into an agreement that provides for the payment of such expenses.
There are times when it may be appropriate to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines. This is frequently done when a child has special needs or when one of the parents has particular needs or circumstances that make it inequitable for him or her to pay child support according to the strict statutory guidelines. These exceptions will be considered in determining an appropriate amount of child support.