I’m often asked, “what expenses does child support actually cover”? The answer is very general in nature. It is a contribution to all monthly household expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, food, etc. It is a contribution towards the regular monthly expenses of the parent’s household. A parent cannot designate the expense his/her support payment should be used for. It cannot be deposited into a separate account solely for the benefit of a child.
In addition, child support does not cover some normal and customary expenses for the children such as extracurricular activities, uncovered medical expenses, school expenses, college funding. All of these expenses must be addressed separately as additional contributions from each parent. Private school tuition is also not credited against the monthly child support obligation, as private school is considered a privilege and not a necessity since a child can attend public school at no cost.
The laws in Florida generally allow a judge or the parties quite a bit of discretion when finalizing family law cases. However, there is one particular area of the law which requires strict compliance. This concerns the issue of child support. In either a Dissolution of Marriage or a Paternity action, child support must be addressed. The parents cannot waive a child’s right to financial support, nor can they deviate from the state-mandated monthly amount as determined by the Florida Legislature in their Child Support Guidelines. Even if both parents agree, a monthly support amount cannot be less than required by the Guidelines, although it can certainly be greater.
The monthly amount is based upon a number of factors. The primary factor is the income of each parent. If a parent is not employed the court will impute income, generally equal to a minimum wage unless said parent has the ability to be employed at a higher income. Once each party’s percentage of contribution is determined, a Guideline Chart will establish the minimum support payment. The child support amount is also impacted by the number of overnight visitations exercised by each parent. Generally speaking, the more overnights exercised by the paying parent, the less support he/she will probably pay. Additional considerations that are included in determining the monthly payment are the cost of daycare/aftercare and health insurance premiums for the minor child’s coverage.
Ultimately, whatever child support obligation applies to your family, that support is available to contribute towards the everyday expenses necessary to provide a roof over the child’s head, food on their table and clothes on their backs.