The obligation to pay child support falls on both parents, although not often equally. The payment of child support is intended to meet children’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter even though it is paid through the other spouse, as the conduit for the money. The question is not “How much must I pay my Former Spouse for child support?” but rather how much should I pay through my Former Spouse for support of my children?”
The guidelines must be consulted as a starting point for child support calculations, but there are a multitude of reasons to adjust upward or downward. Further, several regular, recurring children’s expenses are not included in the basic child support calculation, such as: after-school care, day care, private school costs, the cost of summer camps, the more expensive extracurricular activities, etc.
The most meaningful adjustments parties make to guidelines of child support are for timesharing reasons. If the non-custodial parent has the children for two overnights every other weekend, there may be no reason to adjust support. At the other end of the spectrum, a non-custodial parent who has the children more than forty percent (40%) of the overnights per month is entitled to a substantial adjustment in child support.
In rotating custody cases, there may be no child support payment due at all, because the total expenses of child rearing are already being shared somewhat equally. The same result may occur in split custody arrangements, where one child primarily resides with mother and the other child with father. The child support guideline calculation however, must still be made to assure and confirm the validity of the “no child support” plan.
It is also important to note that a parent’s child support obligation is modifiable. The child support guidelines under Florida Statute 61.30 provide for a modification of one’s child support obligation when a substantial change in circumstances has occurred in the payor’s ability to pay the child support amount.