The amount of time a child spends with a parent is known as “parenting time” and it is calculated based on the amount of overnight visits a child spends with a parent within a 365 day period. Those nights are broken down into a percentage. For example, if a child spends 80 nights out of a year with one parent, then that parent maintains 22 percent parenting time.

A parenting pattern matters in the calculations of child support. If an original custody agreement only allowed a child 25 overnight visits a year with a parent, but in actuality the child had progressed to staying 80 nights a year, then child support could be recalculated. The basis for recalculation is the assumption that if a child is spending more time with a parent, then that parent is likely incurring more expenses in everyday needs. Regardless of an initially entered custody plan, a court can take into consideration an actual parenting pattern as it presently exists.

In the state of Florida, one technicality dictates whether a child support modification is an option based on parenting time. The difference in an original parenting plan and the actual parenting pattern must amount to a 20% or greater difference. If the child only spends enough additional time with a parent to amount to less than 20% of what was originally proposed, then a court will not consider child support modification.

An experienced child support attorney will be able to review a documented parenting pattern and determine if there is enough difference to file a petition for modification.