When Florida courts consider how much time a child spends with a parent, they only really count overnights. You could literally pick your child up from your ex’s house every morning, spend the whole day with the child, and then return the child to your ex’s house at 9 PM and you’d be the non-primary parent in the eyes of the court. Of course, this never happens but parents often, logically, want credit for the active quality time they spend with the child during the day.
The first step in getting a child to spend more time with you is to get the time court ordered. The court will allocate time with the child to each parent based on the best interests of the child.
If one parent is going to receive less 20% of the year (73 days) then that parent will pay “guidelines support.”
Guidelines support is where you add the two parents net incomes in this chart and the state of Florida then allocates a number that they believe it costs to raise one to six children based on the two incomes.
Then all the child’s daycare, health care and dental care expenses are added to that number.
Finally, the two parents apply the proportion of their net income to the others to determine what the non-primary parent owes the primary parent on a monthly basis.
That was a lot of information! Let’s use an example to help clarify it:
Mom makes $ 3000 a month.
Dad makes $ 5000 a month.
Their total income is $ 8000.
Mom makes % 37.5 of the total. Dad makes % 62.5 of the total.
After consulting the grid on the chart, the state of Florida says it should cost 1290 per month to raise their one child.
The child has $ 1000 of monthly daycare expenses, $ 200 of monthly health care expenses and $ 50 of dental expenses. Add those to the $1290 determined by the chart and we have a total obligation of $ 2540.
So, if Dad has less than 73 overnights with the child he will owe Mom 62.5% of the total obligation including the health care, child care and dental expenses. 62.5% of $2540 is $ 1587.
If Dad has more than 73 overnights, he will get a break on his child support to reflect the additional time he has with the child.
Let’s say dad has 146 overnights per year which is 40% of the overnights with the child.
Dad takes the same number from the grid at the beginning of the calculation and determines the amount responsible and multiplies his share by 1.5. So, in this case 62.5% of $ 1290 is $ 806.25. $ 806.25 X 1.5 = 1209.375
Dad doesn’t owe more, though. He takes that amount multiplied by 1.5 and multiplies it by the percentage of overnights he has with the child, 40% X $1209.375 = $483.75.
The medical expenses, child care expenses and dental expenses get split proportional to income on top of that amount.
So, more time with the child does reduce child support.
In my opinion and experience, it is important for the child to feel like he has a home and is not shuttled between two houses. Splitting time is harder and harder on the child the further the parents live away from each other. So, my final piece of advice to you is look closely at houses near your ex. It’s the best way to get more time with your kids and the reduction in child support is a small benefit.
If you’re looking for more time with your child or looking to change your child support, contact my Naples, Florida law office to schedule a free consultation.