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Many Florida parents who have never been married wonder if they should go to court to get child support from the other parent. The short answer is yes – you need a court order to get child support in Florida. The problem is that once you go to court, you can open a “pandora’s box” of other issues that you may regret. Read on to understand some of the ramifications of filing a child support case in Florida.

1. Florida Child Support Amounts Are Less Than You Think

In Florida child support is calculated based on a mathematical formula. This formula is found in Florida Statutes Section 61.30, known as the Florida Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines specify the amount of child support based on the income of the parents and the number of children they have. Unfortunately, these amounts are based on the average costs of raising a child in 1972-1973. For example, the child support for one child when the parents earn a combined income of $100,000 per year is $1313 per month. The cost of hiring a lawyer to file your court case could eat up several months of child support before you ever get to buy any new clothes or shoes for your kid.

2. In Florida Child Support is Linked to Custody (aka Timesharing)

Florida child support is reduced if the parents share custody of a child. In Florida, the way that the court determines if there is shared custody is by counting the number of “overnights” that a child spends with each parent. If the child spends 73 or more overnights with one parent, the court considers this “substantial” timesharing and adjusts the child support payment. If the parents share custody equally, this is known as 50/50 custody or timesharing. The child support owed between the parents is generally minimized when they have 50/50 timesharing. The result is that many parents who may have taken very little responsibility for child care when the parents were together will be motivated to get a substantial amount of timesharing after the break-up. If you don’t want to hand over your child to the other parent for overnight timesharing 182 nights a year, think twice before going to court for child support.

3. Your Florida Child Support Case Can Stop You From Moving with Your Kids

In Florida, paternity must be legally established for a father who was never married to the mother of a child. Until a father has legally established paternity, he has no legal right to custody of the child. This means that the mother is free to move to another state or even another country with the child. After mom files a child support case, however, she cannot move the child without court permission. If you long to move somewhere else to be near family, friends or a better job opportunity, think twice before you file a child support case in Florida court.


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