Important Changes to Florida Child Support Statute

With the signing of Florida House bill 907, Florida Family Law statutes have had quite a few changes. The Child Support Statue update now mandates that effective January 1, 2011, any and all child support orders entered into on or after October 1, 2010 must provide:

1. The termination of the child support shall end on the child's eighteenth birthday, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. This is a pretty significant change from the current statute, which mandates child support to continue past the 18th birthday with a reasonable expectation of graduation. So, if the child turns 18 in October but does not graduate until June, under the current statute the child support would continue until graduation.

2. A child support schedule. This schedule shall state the amount of the monthly child support obligation for all the minor children at the time the order is entered. The schedule shall also provide the amount of child support that will be owed for any children remaining after one or more children in the order are no longer entitled to receive child support.

3. The month, day and year that the reduction or termination of child support becomes effective.

The recent changes also provide the Child Support Guidelines and Principles that will be follow by the Florida family courts:

1. Each parent has a legal obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child.

2. The guideline schedule is based upon the parents' combined net income that the child would be receiving if the parents were still living in the same household.

3. The goal of the guidelines is to encourage fair and efficient settlement of child support issues between parents, as well as minimize the need for litigation.

It would seem that on the face of the update, the biggest change is how we actually calculate the child support number. Normally, the number of overnights needed to realize a significant change in the amount paid from one parent to another was 147 overnights, or forty (40%) of the whole year. That number has decreased to 73 overnights or twenty (20%) of the whole year. This change will be significant whether you are paying or receiving parent of child support.