“If we each have the kids 50% of the time, is it true that neither of us have to pay child support?”
It is not true. Child support does not depend exclusively on how much time a child spends with a parent. It depends much more on the parents’ respective incomes.
Each parent has a duty to support the children. How much each party pays is determined by a formula set forth in Section 61.30 of the Florida Statutes, based on the parties’ net monthly incomes.
Normally, the statutory formula does not consider how much time each parent spends with the child. It relies solely mostly on each parties’ income and certain expenses for the child, such as health insurance premiums and daycare costs. However, when each parent has the child overnight for more than 40% of the of the year (146 overnights), Florida law requires that a different calculation be made to take into account “substantial time-sharing.” Each parent’s number of nights is factored into the child support determination so that amount of each parent’s pro rata share of total child support is offset against the other parent’s share. The difference is the amount to be paid by the parent with the larger income.
Under this statute, unless both parents have approximately equal incomes and approximately equal time-sharing, one parent will probably continue to have a child-support obligation to the other.
With “substantial time-sharing” in place, however, the amount paid will be drastically lower than the child support owing if the paying parent doesn’t have at least 146 overnights with the child.
Joel H. Feldman, a founding partner of Feldman & Schneiderman in Boca Raton, has been practicing law since 1979. He has been “AV-Rated” by Martindale-Hubbell for more than 18 years.