Divorce is always hard, but it can be even more challenging when you have children. When you're considering divorce and have young children, your biggest worries are probably how the divorce will affect your kids emotionally and how the divorce will affect your finances and, therefore, your ability to care for your children.
Worrying about how you will pay for childcare isn't an irrational concern. Daycare, particularly for infants and young toddlers, is expensive. Florida is one of 31 states where the annual cost of tuition at a public college is less than the cost of childcare. In Orange County, the average weekly cost for infant care is $176, but prices range up to $346. The average cost for a year of tuition and fees at a Florida public university is about $6,300. The average cost for a year of infant care is more than $8,300.
Determining Child Support
Fortunately, Florida courts do consider the cost of childcare when making child support determinations. Typically, the courts will use the Florida Child Support Guidelines to determine each parent's child support contributions. See Fl. Stat. §61.30 (2012). Using the “income shares model,” the court will attempt to determine the amount of money the parents would have spent on their children had they remained married. The court then divides this amount between the two parents based on their individual incomes.
The court will also consider the required expenses of the couple, including:
- Child support paid for other children;
- Health insurance costs;
- Retirement payments; and
- Spousal support for this proceeding or from an earlier marriage.
The amount determined by the Florida guidelines is the presumptive amount of child support. That means that the court can vary it a bit based on circumstances, but the support will probably be within 5% of the court's calculated child support amount.
Determining Childcare Contributions
Florida courts will typically divide additional expenses necessary for raising a child, including health care premiums and deductibles, educational expenses, and childcare. These expenses are above and beyond the child support obligations determined by statute. To determine each parent's contributions towards childcare, Florida courts will typically divide them according to each parent's income. So, if you make twice what your spouse makes, you can expect to pay twice the amount towards childcare for your kids.
While you and your ex-partner can agree on a different division of expenses, you should be sure to get the court's approval. Florida courts don't have much leeway in the amount of child support they must order, but they do have more leeway concerning additional child-related expenses like childcare. So, if you receive a discount on childcare through your employer, but your ex-partner has less expensive health insurance premiums, you may be able to agree that you will pay for childcare, and the other parent will pay for health insurance. Of course, this should be in writing and approved by the court.
If you are considering divorce, you need advice from a skilled divorce attorney. The experienced Orlando divorce law attorneys of Veliz Katz Law can help. Contact us at 407-849-7072 for a consultation, and we can discuss your options.