New Florida Law on Child Support:
How to avoid overpaying after one child reaches majority if you have two or more children with the same person
by Lilliana Real, Esq.
If one child turns 18, the child support should be adjusted but it does not adjust automatically, unless it is part of the Marital Settlement Agreement or other agreement if the case is a paternity case instead of divorce. Now, Florida law mandates that every agreement contain a child support amount for all children and then a child support amount for the children as each child turns 18. This is to prevent parents from overpaying for child support after a child turns 18 years old.
Normally, in an agreement involving child support in Florida where there is more than one child, the child support is calculated for all the children and the obligation would terminate when a child would turn 18 or at 19 if while 18 she is still in school with good grades and a reasonably expectation that he/she would graduate high school at 19. However, the problem was that in order to reduce the child support after one of the children turned 18 or 19 as describe above, the payor of the child support had to file a petition in court to modify the amount and many times the payor parent just forgot or did not want the hassle of going back to court and as such, overpaid child support.
The Florida legislature discovered this problem and passed a law effective January 2011, that requires that in every case with more than one child, the amounts have to be calculated and placed into the agreement for when each child’s support terminates so that for example if there are three children, there must be three child support guidelines and three amounts, one to be paid when all three children are below 18 or 19, one to be paid when the first child turns 18 or 19 and one to be paid when the second child turns 18 or 19 (“majority”).
Now that the law has changed, it is a good idea to review your Marital Settlement Agreement or Agreement in a Paternity case in Florida to see if your agreement has the various amounts of child support and the dates when the child support amount will change. If your agreement does not contain the different amounts when your child support changes as your children reach majority and dates when those amounts are set to change, then you should go to court to have your agreement amended before one of your children reaches majority so that you do not end up overpaying child support.