After a divorce, you still have a legal responsibility to provide financial support and stability for your child. This usually manifests in a child support order. However, like many Florida parents, you might not understand why you are paying your current amount and what it will cover.
This can be frustrating for paying parents. If you do not understand why you are paying a certain amount or how it benefits your child, you may feel less inclined to adhere to your court-ordered support payments, which can land you in legal trouble. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making those monthly support payments.
Covering basic necessities
The basic necessities of life are easy enough. Your child needs safe shelter, proper clothing and food. At the very minimum, child support must help cover some of these costs. This means your child's other parent will use some of your support payments to purchase groceries, buy appropriate clothing for you child and pay the rent or mortgage.
However, do not expect to see an itemized list of where one uses your support. Courts do not expect custodial parents to calculate the percentage of rent used for a child's room and shared living spaces, or which portion of a box of cereal he or she ate. Custodial parents may use child support in the manner they see fit for the benefit of the child.
What about everything else?
Children usually have more associated costs than just the bare minimums of life. Things like medical care, school supplies, extracurricular activities, childcare and entertainment are part of a child's typical expenses. Typical expenses will of course vary from child to child, but there are a few examples of how else you should contribute financially.
You should not pay more than you can actually afford, so courts will also consider your ability to pay as well. Here a few things that go into deciding support:
- Your income
- Ability to pay
- Child's financial needs
- Amount needed to maintain child's standard of living
Are you paying too much?
Supporting your child financially is important to you. However, you also need to be able to pay your own bills. Finding a balance between these two factors might seem easy enough, but it can be surprisingly complicated.
If your current support order is too high, you need to petition the court for a modification as soon as possible. To avoid any delays in this matter, some Florida parents choose to work with an attorney experienced in family law matters.