Like most of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale is home to a diverse community. Nearly a quarter of its residents are foreign-born or speak languages other than English at home. While the average household size in 2010 was only 2.17 people, nearly half of the households in the city consist of families. If you part ways with the other parent of your child before the child turns 18, you likely will need to address the issue of child support. These determinations can often be complicated, so enlisting an attorney may be critical in protecting your rights. Fort Lauderdale child support attorney Carmen G. Soto can help you understand your rights and options under the law. She has been practicing family law for 15 years, so you can trust that you are in good hands. We understand this is a stressful time, and we try to take some of the financial pressure off our clients by offering flexible payment plans. Our office is located down the street from the new Broward County courthouse, so our clients do not need to pay us for any travel costs or parking fees. Our staff is bilingual in English and Spanish.Establishing a Child Support Obligation
Parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, whether or not they are married. In Florida, child support is based on a mathematical formula that takes into account the number of children and the combined net incomes of the parents, which are calculated by subtracting allowable deductions from their gross income. Some examples of allowable deductions include Social Security and Medicare payments, income tax payments, mandatory retirement payments, alimony payments, and court-ordered child support for children from other relationships.
Timesharing agreements often have an impact on child support. If each parent spends at least 20 percent of the year with the child, the calculations may be more complicated than if one parent spends less than 20 percent of the year with the child. This is because each parent is maintaining a separate household for the child, and the percentage of time that the child spends with each parent must be taken into account in addition to each parent’s income.
For certain items, such as health care and child care, the obligation of each parent will be determined based only on their incomes rather than considering their parenting time as well. If a parent intentionally tries to lower their income by quitting a higher-paying job for a lower-paying job, a court still can impute income to that individual based on his or her employment potential and qualifications. Voluntary underemployment or unemployment thus will not reduce a child support obligation.
In some special circumstances, a deviation from the child support guidelines may be appropriate. A court may consider any factors that it deems relevant in deciding whether a deviation is fair, often including special expenses related to the child’s education or health care, any independent income that the child is earning, or any extraordinary expenses that either parent needs to cover. However, bear in mind that the deviation the court can make is minimal.
If one parent wishes to modify the amount of child support, that parent has the burden of proving a substantial and ongoing change in circumstances. As a general threshold requirement, the difference between the current child support amount and the new amount must be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever is greater. Common reasons for a parent to seek a modification of child support include when the non-paying parent gets a substantial increase in salary or when the parents alter their timesharing arrangement with the child.Contact a Child Support Attorney in the Fort Lauderdale Area
If you need representation in protecting the interests of your child, Fort Lauderdale child support lawyer Carmen G. Soto can help you advocate for an appropriate amount of support. She also can assist you in arguing for or against a modification in the support that your child is currently receiving. At the Law Offices of Carmen G. Soto, we also represent residents of Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Weston, Tamarac, Margate, Hallandale Beach, Lauderdale Lakes, and other cities in Broward County. Call us at 954-523-0703 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a divorce attorney.