In Florida, Do I Have to Pay Child Support With 50/50/Equal Time Sharing?
Essentially, 50/50 equal time sharing and paying child support have little to do with each other except that both involve a couple being the legal parents, either by birth or adoption, of a minor child. Taking a closer look at both 50/50 equal time sharing and paying child support the following is important to note:
Equal time sharing:
In Florida, except in special cases involving for example drugs or child abuse or domestic violence conviction, the term “primary custody” is no longer used as parents are considered partner in raising their minor children following a divorce, or if never married, a separation. In Florida statutes 61.13 there are listed 20 guidelines a judge will use to determine what is in the best interest of a child. It is hoped each parent will be fit enough in mind, body, and spirit, to take equal responsibility for the care and nurturing of their minor child or children until the age of l8 or when special needs are involved. Time spent with the minor child, which includes overnights, will be adjudicated on a 50/50 basis. Sometimes children will spend one week with one parent and the next week with the other parent. Sometimes the weeks will be divided up evenly with parents having their children every other weekend. Major decision making involving education, discipline, medical, and religion, will be done together with parents agreeing on the outcome. A parenting plan will be developed including the above, as well as such details as who has the child when the parent of the day cannot do so; who has the child on holidays and special events such as birthdays; how life and health insurance are paid for and any other particulars involved with the individual case.
Of course, as time goes on it can happen one or both parents choose not to follow the parenting plan and the court will once again intervene to see what can be done, often adjudicating contempt of court citations to an offending parent. Too, a judge may feel a 50/50 time sharing is not in the best interest of a child and will adjudicate say a 40/60 or 30/70 arrangement. It is always hoped both parents will strive to be equally involved in their child’s life, but when this is not possible or does not happen, the court will try to have the best arrangement possible put in place. This is true at any point in a minor child’s upbringing. As child support is based on time spent with a child as well as financial considerations, a less than 50/50 equal time sharing will affect the amount of child support paid.
There are always expenses involved in raising children, regardless of whose care they are in. And, unless each parent earns the same amount of money, one or the other parent will be adjudicated to pay child support to the parent earning less. This practice helps even out how children will be financially cared for. Expenses such as extracurricular activities like sports or ballet classes, on-going medical expenses such as special medicines, child care while parents are working, and transportation costs for a child in a special school are looked at in terms of dollars and cents and divided up evenly. If one parent cannot pay half due to their income, the other parent will be expected to pay a greater portion as part of child support.
While circumstances such as a previous history of low paying jobs or stay-at-home parent are taken into consideration, a judge will usually order both parents to do their part, financially, as well as in care and nurturing. In fact, it can be said that caring for a child on a 50/50 basis does not necessarily pay the bills. A means test followed by a judge’s order or approval of an arrangement worked out during a mediation resulting in a marital settlement will determine who pays child support, even in a situation when 50/50 equal time-sharing is decreed. And, as mentioned above, a less than 50/50 equal time sharing will affect the final amount of child support adjudicated.