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How is Child Support Calculated in Florida?

In Florida divorce cases, the well-being of minor children remains a priority when it comes to the court’s ruling on the divorce case. This goes for time-sharing arrangements as well as child support calculations. Child support is an essential component in ensuring the well-being of a child and very rarely, if ever, can it be waived.

While it may seem like a big mystery as to what you will be responsible for in terms of child support payments after divorce, the law is quite clear in how such payments are to be calculated based on your monthly income and the number of children you have.

What are the Florida guidelines for child support?

Florida Statute 61.30 provides clear guidelines for determining the amount of child support parents are obligated to pay. The state follows an Income Shares Model, which is based on the belief that the child(ren) should receive the same proportion of parental income after the divorce as they would have received had the parents remained married.

Under this model, child support is calculated based on a formula that takes into account both parents’ monthly income and expenses, which must be detailed in financial affidavits that are then filed with the court and shared with the other party. The calculation of gross income includes:

  • Salary or wages.
  • Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
  • Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
  • 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.
  • Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.

If one party tries to skirt the issue of paying child support by willfully becoming unemployed or underemployed, the statute also dictates that monthly income shall be imputed, which means the courts can treat an unemployed or underemployed spouse as if he or she is in fact employed full-time and earning a full-time wage.

After monthly gross income has been calculated, deductions are permitted in order to arrive at each parties’ individual net income figures. Permitted deductions include:

  • Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
  • Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
  • Mandatory union dues.
  • Mandatory retirement payments.
  • Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
  • Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
  • Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.
  • Net income for each parent shall be computed by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income.
  • Net income for each parent shall be added together for a combined net income.

The final monthly net income figure is what you – and the courts! – will use to determine how much child support is expected based on each parties’ net income and the number of children they have.

The last step in determining child support calculations is to divide each parent’s net income by the total net income of both parents, and then multiply the answer by the child support obligation outlined in the grid. This is done in order to assign a percentage of the obligation to each spouse based on their income.

Once child support payments have been determined by the courts, they can be modified only when there’s a change in the income of the parties. Modifications will be granted if the new payment would be more than a 15% or $50 increase or decrease in the support, whichever is greater.

If you have questions about child support payments, need to seek a post-judgment modification, or would like to schedule a case evaluation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Vasquez de Lara Law Group. We know how difficult of time divorce can be. To us, you’re family and we do everything we can to relieve some of your burden.