Question: In Florida, how does the amount of time sharing affect child support?
The Florida Statutes allow for a reduction in child support if the paying parent has the child for more than 20% of the nights in a year. 20% is equivalent to 73 nights over the course of a year.
Each night above 73 will provide a slightly greater reduction of the parent’s child support obligation. So everything else being equal, a parent who sees their child for 80 nights per year will pay higher child support than the parent who sees the child for 90 nights per year. The reason for this is that the legislature felt that parents who spent a sizable amount of time with their children had greater costs when compared to parents who rarely saw their children.
A common misconception is that having 20% of the nights will result in a 20% reduction in the child support obligation. This is not necessarily the case. The Florida Statutes provide for a fairly convoluted formula to calculate the reduction.
The key to properly applying the reduction is to correctly determine the number of nights. The first thing to consider is that a potential reduction only applies to nights. Not days. For example, if a parent sees their child for 5 days per week after school, but the child only sleeps at the parent’s house for 2 nights per week. Then that parent can only apply 2 nights toward the annual total to determine the child support reduction.
Next, you should make sure that you add up all the night that the paying parent will have the child over the course of a year. Other than including normal weekday and weekend visits, be sure to include nights that occur during Spring Break and Christmas Break as well as on birthdays, Mothers or Fathers Day, and other holidays such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. And don’t forget to include the summer. Some parents do use a different schedule during the summer.