Correctly calculating child support is one of the largest issues in many divorces. Like many other states, Florida attempts to make child support determinations systematic and transparent through the use of a standardized worksheet. However, it is still up to the trial court to correctly interpret this worksheet, and this process sometimes results in errors. Consulting with an experienced attorney such as the child custody attorney Tampa FL locals trust is advised.
In general, Florida’s Child Support Guidelines Worksheet is fairly straightforward. This form must be filled out in any divorce case where child support is requested. The worksheet asks for certain basic financial information about the parents and children, including the mother and father’s net monthly incomes, monthly child care costs, monthly insurance costs and monthly medical and dental costs; the form also takes into consideration the amount of time that the children spend with each parent. While trial judges can deviate from the calculated amount of child support due as shown on the worksheet, this form is one of the central tools used by Florida’s courts in making proper child support determinations.
However, the worksheet is not foolproof, as one Florida man recently found out. In Bond v. Bond, Michael Bond appealed a nonfinal order entered by the trial court in the divorce proceedings with his wife. In this order, the trial judge had granted Lauren Bond’s request for temporary child support. However, in calculating the amount due by Michael Bond to Lauren Bond, the trial court used a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet that omitted the amount that Michael Bond paid for the mortgage on the home when Lauren Bond and their children live. Because this amount was not taken into consideration, Michael Bond was ordered to pay Lauren Bond a significantly higher amount of child support.
In reviewing the trial court’s order, the Second District Court of Appeals agreed with Michael Bond. When determining child support, the appellate court asserted, “in kind contributions” such as mortgage payments should be considered when determining the amount of child support due. The trial court had erred in not considering the more than $1,100 that Michael Bond was paying for his wife and children’s housing expenses.
In short, as the appellate court stated, the law on this issue is clear: any housing expenses paid by one party for the other’s benefit must be factored into the calculations for determining child support.
Thanks to authors at Mckinney Law Group for their insight into Family and Divorce Law.