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New Statute Addresses Overnight Stays in Child Support Calculations

A new statute in Florida has changed the way divorced couples and family courts may calculate child support, better taking into account actual overnight stays.

The law, which went into effect May 12, 2014, allows for the consideration of actual time-sharing arrangements and schedules (verses the schedule attached to your divorce decree) as a greater factor in child support. Under the law, courts may change the total minimum child support award based on the actual time-sharing agreement in which children spend a significant amount of time with the minority time-sharing parent, thus reducing the costs incurred by the majority time-sharing parent.

Prior to the passage of this new statute, overnight visits could only be counted in child support calculations based on the actual schedule approved by the Court.  Now, as long the parties agree to the time-sharing schedule, however, parents may count overnights with the minority time-sharing parent even if those overnights exceed those allowed in the schedule approved by the Court.  There is also no requirement of written documentation to go along with these arrangements.

This new law marks a significant adjustment in how divorced couples calculate accurate child support payments, and will likely reduce the amount of support many minority time-sharing parents owe on a monthly basis.  In Florida, there are two different formulas used to determine these amounts. One is used if the parent making payments spends less than 20 percent of overnight visits with children, and the other is used if he or she has more than 20 percent of the overnights (or at least 73 overnight visits annually).

When you are going through a divorce, it’s important to make sure that all child support arrangements are fair and provide adequate resources for children as they grow up. To learn more about this process, consult a Jacksonville family law attorney.

Jacksonville, Florida family law attorney Shane Herbert also contributed to this blog post.

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