New Child Support Law – 2010

A new statute has been signed signed by the Florida Governor, Charlie Crist – making significant changes to the child support system in Florida. Florida child support is based on a mathematical calculation.

The main factor that goes into that calculation is the Gross Income of both parents. In the old system, child support ended when each child reached the age of 18 (or 19 if still in high school). But there was a big problem that came up when the minor children reached 18. The old statute was set up to require parents file a petition, return to court and to seek an order ending child support. If there were multiple children, the law required a parent to seek an order recalculating the amount of child support each and every time one of the children reached adulthood. The effect of the old support statute was to create a huge financial hardship for parents.

Frequently, parents had to go back to court multiple times as each child became an adult. Human nature caused an additional problem: parents facing a required return visit to court always seem to want changes in parenting time. The end result was a series of court fights throughout the life of both parents. The new statute provides a solution to this long standing problem.

Beginning on October 12st, 2010 (certain provisions start on January 1st, 2011) (as of this writing), child support orders must be written differently. Any new child support order shall list the date the support will self-terminate. Normally, that date would be the 18th birthday of the child – or an alternate date based on extenuating circumstances. If there are multiple children, the order must contain a breakout of support amounts for each child, and a schedule of dates showing when the support for each child terminates.

The bottom line: parents will not be required to return to court when their child becomes an adult. The other big change affects the amount of child support – and how that amount is customized for each parenting situation. In the old system, child support was calculated by a standard formula for most situations.

But when the non-majority parent (non-custodial parent) had a certain amount of overnights with the child – the support calculation used a different formula. This alternate formula resulted in a drastically lower support number. The amount of overnights needed to trigger the alternate formula was 146. This resulted in continous battles between parents. While one parent fought for overnight parenting time exceeding 146 nights, the other parent fought back trying to stay below that number. The real fight in everyone’s mind was over money.

The new statute changes the trigger point from 146 overnights to 73 overnights. Because most non-custodial parents enjoy at least 73 overnights of parenting time – most situations will qualify for the alternate support calculation. That alternate calculation is called “Substantial Time Sharing.”

And once the alternate calculation is triggered, child support will vary according to the exact amount of overnight parenting time each parent is responsible for. At The Divorce Center, we believe the new statute will lessen fighting over money and direct the attention of parents to where it belongs: on their children.