Child Support in General
Parents have a legal duty to provide adequate financial support for their children to cover essential items such as food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care. Because this duty stems from the parent-child relationship rather than the marital relationship, a divorce action between parents does not terminate a parent’s legal responsibility to pay child support.
Instead, child support obligations automatically end when the child becomes an adult. In fact, a parent’s duty to pay child support continues even after their death and subjects their estate to liability for the remaining balance of child support.
Typically, a parent who was awarded sole parental responsibility of a child usually receives child support payments from the other parent. The amount of a child support obligation depends on the application of statutory guidelines.
Under Florida Statutes § 61.30, courts are required to apply specific statutory guidelines when making an initial calculation to determine a child support obligation. The amount of child support stems from the combined income of the parents and the number of children between them.
Furthermore, a person can ask the court to modify their child support obligations if they can show that a substantial change in circumstances justifies changing the order’s terms. Typically, unanticipated events that affect the parties’ financial conditions qualify to modify an existing support order.
The Effect of Subsequent Children
When a spouse who owes child support has children of their own with a different partner subsequent to a previous marriage, it can put a strain on their financial resources. In general, the needs of a subsequent child do not justify modifying an existing child support order to obtain a reduced payment. In fact, a parent cannot use the birth or adoption of a subsequent child to avoid increases to their child support obligations. This rule reflects Florida's public policy that parents should take their existing child support obligations into consideration when deciding to have more children with another partner.
However, there are exceptions to the application of Florida’s child support guidelines when it comes to subsequent children. Courts have held that a child support order can deviate from statutory guidelines if a subsequent child has a disability or special condition that demands more financial resources than usual.
Also, the court can also consider the financial resources of the subsequent child’s other parent when determining whether to depart from the statutory guidelines for calculating support. However, courts have held that a family law judge may not factor income from a second job a parent found primarily to support a subsequent child.
In Need of Legal Counsel? The Virga Law Firm, P.A. is Ready to Help
The financial issues associated with the parental rights and responsibilities of separated parents can be challenging to navigate. As a result, you should consult an attorney with experience in Florida family law issues for advice. At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., we have years of experience negotiating and advocating for our clients’ rights in various family law cases, including child support proceedings. You can rely on us to provide you with effective legal representation that addresses the unique issues that arise from your case.
For an initial consultation, please call our office at (800) 822-5170 or contact us online today.