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Child Support: Florida Guidelines and Calculations

When it comes to child support, each state has different standards and guidelines. But generally speaking, child support guidelines are uniform throughout the State of Florida, and the guidelines provide standards  to calculate the support needed for a child, and the amount of each parent’s responsibility.

Section 61.30, Florida Statutes, governs child support in Florida. This section of law provides the information needed to calculate child support for both the initial proceeding and any future proceedings for modification.

When determining how much child support to award, the judge will generally consider the following:

  • Financial status of each parent;
  • Financial ability of each parent;
  • Child’s health care and child care costs;
  • Standard needs of the child;
  • Age of child;
  • Station in life of child;
  • Standard of living of the family; and
  • Independent income or assets of the child.

The judge has the discretion to adjust the award by 5%, plus or minus, after considering all the relevant factors. In special circumstances, a payment with a greater than 5% variance is possible, if it is found that ordering a payment in accordance with the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. For example, a judge may consider a child’s high medical expenses as a reason to change the support amount. In most cases, judges have to give written reasons why support amounts are different from guideline amounts.

Gross Income

According to Section 61.30, a parent’s financial status will first be evaluated based upon their gross income. Gross income shall include:

  • Salary or wages;
  • Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments;
  • Disability benefits;
  • All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements;
  • Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation;
  • Pension, retirement, or annuity payments;
  • Social Security benefits;
  • Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court;
  • Interest and dividends;
  • Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income;
  • Income from royalties, trusts, or estates;
  • Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses; and
  • Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.

Florida Child Support Calculations

To calculate the actual payment, each parent’s net monthly income is determined, after gross income is added up.  The court will then utilize the statutory schedule (a chart with columns and rows of figures) to determine the minimum child support needed by the child or children, after combining each parent’s net monthly income.  For example, according to Section 61.30(2)(b), a combined monthly net income of $2,000 corresponds to $442 minimum child support for one child.  This figure is the total amount of child support the child is entitled to receive from both parents. Then, a ratio is calculated to determine each parent’s percentage share of the basic monthly obligation.  The parent making more income will pay more of the child support provided in the chart, according to the percentage of that parent’s responsibility. Additional support is awarded for the cost of child care and health insurance.  The court will also consider the percentage of overnight stays with each parent.  If the non-custodial parent enjoys more than 20% of the child’s overnight stays, the calculation will be altered to recognize the cost of doing that.

You can get an estimate of child support amounts by using the Florida Child Support Calculator.

Need Legal Advice

If you are going through a divorce or separation, and minor children are involved, it is highly likely that child support will be considered.  To best protect your rights through this proceeding, you should seek legal representation. The experienced Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood family law attorney at the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. can be of help. Contact the office at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.

Sources

Florida Child Support Calculator

Section 61.30, Florida Statutes

 

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