Child support in Florida is calculated pursuant to a formula. Both parties technically owe support to their child and the amounts are calculated by using an algebra formula. We plug in amounts for certain variables and the formula tells you who owes whom how much money.
The variables that go into the formula are: a) mom's income b) dad's income c) child care costs and who pays it d) child's health care costs and who pays it e) the number of court ordered overnight visits a parent has per year.
You can argue over what numbers to use for a, b, c, d, and e, but once you know those numbers the amount that comes out of the calculation is relatively set in stone. You can change the amount by 5% up or down for good reason, but beyond that, there isn't much negotiation.
A Parent in Florida who is owed child support does not have the right to waive that support or to agree not to recieve support. In other words, you cannot contract out of child support.
The importance of an attorney in these cases cannot be overstated. While a formula is used to determine support (and therefore many people assume an attorney is not necessary) there is much skill, research and law on determining what those number (a-e above) are. Any small difference in those variables can lead to a HUGE decrease or increase in the amount owed.
Many times the initiation of a child support case is through the Department of Revenue (DOR) requesting an administrative hearing. If this happens a parent will receive via mail a notification of DOR's intent to establish child support. It is at this stage that a person should obtain an attorney if possible. In order to avoid an administrative proceeding and to have a Judge make a determination of support certain papers must be filed within 20 days of such a Notice being sent.
Our office is happy to offer a free consultation on support issues via phone and suggests that you have your previous order (if any) available for the consultation.