How Timesharing and Child Support Go Hand in Hand

How Timesharing and Child Support Go Hand in Hand

In the United States, it is estimated that about 50 percent of marriages end in either divorce or separation. While the separating partners usually have their for pursuing divorce, the well-being of the children is usually of paramount importance in family law.

There are often two essential issues to address when it comes to separation or divorce:

  • Child support; and
  • Time-sharing

Determining the parent to take primary custody of the kids is problematic in itself. Both parents likely want to spend quality time with the kids. At the same time, the issue of child support must be resolved. While both parents are expected to be financially committed to the welfare of their kids, the parent with the lesser time spent may have to pay child support to the other parent. This means that timesharing and child support are often intertwined.

Child support in Florida

Child support is a court-ordered obligation of financial support for the care, maintenance, and education of a child (Florida Child Support Law, 39.01). Ordinarily, child support is the responsibility of every parent, regardless of whether they are married or divorced. In Florida, child support duty cannot be waived. Parents of a minor child have a legal and moral obligation to support and maintain their child [Finn v. Finn].

Several factors can influence the amount of child support to be paid by each parent. Parents’ income, custody rights, and the number of children are some of the major determinants. The Income Shares Model is used in Florida to calculate the amount of child support to be paid.

Firstly, the amount of money that would be spent on the children if both parents were together will be determined. This estimate will then be divided between the two parents according to their incomes. The parent that earns more will be expected to contribute more towards child support.

The parent to whom the child support is to be paid will also be determined. This person is ideally the parent with custody rights. This is no doubt because the kids will be expected to spend more time with this parent.

Timesharing in Florida Law

‘Timesharing,’ rather than ‘custody,’ is the more common term used in Florida. Unless it is found that timesharing will be detrimental to the children, both parents will share time with the kids. Section 61.13 of Florida Statutes provides that:

It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of child-rearing. There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the child’s parenting plan.

Three basic timesharing types are identifiable in Florida: (1) Majority timesharing, (2) Equal timesharing, and (3) Supervised timesharing. Whichever way it is decided; the timesharing schedules will seek to:

  • Minimize children’s disruption and loss
  • Ensure children’s security and stability
  • Shield children from conflict
  • Maximize relationships between children and parents
  • Anticipate and plan for changes in circumstances

The relationship between timesharing and child support in Florida

The amount of child support to be contributed largely depends on the income of the parents and the number of children involved. Notably, however, parenting time (timesharing) also has a significant role to play.

The courts will take into consideration the amount of timesharing when deciding on child support. This has been the law in Florida even before January 1, 2011. Before January 2011, however, the timesharing impact will only come into play when the parent with fewer overnights overall has at least 40 percent of the overnights. In that instance, such a parent will be entitled to an adjustment of the child support to be paid.

However, from January, 2011, overnights to qualify for child support adjustment were lowered from 40 percent to 20 percent. Twenty percent is equivalent to 73 nights for a year. A popular misconception is that having 20% of the nights will result in a 20% reduction in the child support obligation. This is false. The twenty percent timesharing law only means that you qualify for a re-modification of the child support if the child spends more than 20 percent of the time overnight with you [Williams v. Bossicot, 4D20-524 (Fla. 4th DCA July 8, 2020)]. The modification will be as specified by Florida Statutes.

Explaining the “20% overnight rule”

For every night over 73 nights, your child support will be reduced. For instance, a parent who spends 90 nights with the kids will generally contribute less child support than if the children spend 80 nights with them. All things being equal, the more overnights spent with the children, the greater the costs of taking care of the children. If you spend more overnights with the kids, you’re invariably paying more towards their maintenance. As such, you’re entitled to a modification of the child support.

It should be noted that you only qualify for a potential reduction if you spend more ‘overnights,’ not days. Here’s a good example. Jane is a parent that sees the kids five (5) days a week after school. The kids spend two (2) nights per week with Jane. Jane can only factor the two nights into the calculation of child support reduction. Nights spent during Spring break, Christmas break, as well as on birthdays and other holidays will also be put into consideration.

In some instances, the parents may have an equal amount of overnights per year (equal timesharing). In such cases, the child support will be calculated according to the guidelines and the parents’ income. Health insurance, daycare costs, medical expenses not covered by insurance are some other factors that may be put into consideration.

Get in touch with a compassionate family lawyer

If you want to spend more time with the kids, you should negotiate a lesser child support payment. The expenses you incur when the kids spend overnight with you will be covered by the reduction in the child support you pay. Notwithstanding this, the great thing is that you’ll be spending more time with your children.

It’s not an easy task calculating the payments, income, or even the time to be shared. An experienced family law attorney can help you find the perfect balance for the benefit of your kids and your advantage. If you also have an inquiry or you’re not satisfied with your timesharing or child support arrangement, get in touch with us at Sara Jones Law, P.A. Call us today at (863) 455-4811 or get in touch with us online here.

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