How Florida judges determine child support in joint custody cases

| Jan 24, 2021 | Family Law |

Child support can be a hotly contested part of a divorce, and many people are uncertain or confused about how child support awards are determined — particularly when the parents have joint physical custody of the child.

Most states are subject to the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). This legislation guides states in determining a parent’s support obligations. Florida judges often consult both CSSA and, more specifically, the Income Shares Model when deciding what child support awards to make here in the Sunshine State. 

What is the Child Support Standards Act?

The CSSA went into effect in 2008. It calls for judges to use a formula when determining child support awards. This legislation stops short of mandating a specific formula that each jurisdiction should use, though. Lawmakers who drafted this law left that up to individual states to decide. 

What formulas does Florida use to determine child support?

Florida relies on the Income Shares Model for determining a parent’s percentage of responsibility for paying child support. Judges must know each parent’s income and how much time they regularly spend with their child to successfully use this formula and determine a mom or dad’s support obligation.

The Income Shares Model contrasts with the Percentage of Income Model. Judges generally only use the latter formula to determine a noncustodial parent’s support obligation. The Percentage of Income Model is a mere flat rate percentage calculation based on the noncustodial parent’s income.

Are there instances in which judges may not award any child support?

The court has no obligation to definitively award child support in any case. A judge may not order either party to pay if they see that both parents are equally capable of providing for their child’s needs. The court won’t expect one of you to carry a more significant financial burden than the other, though. A judge may order child support to cover travel expenses, child care and additional costs in such cases. 

There’s no such thing as a clear cut Florida child support case. Your earnings and expenditures and how much time you spend time with your son or daughter can impact your Destin judge’s decisions. A child support attorney may be able to assist you in crafting a solid argument that meets your needs.