How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?
Child support ensures that both parents financially contribute to their child’s care. Because child support is technically owed to the child, a parent cannot waive child support.
This means that calculating child support is an inevitable task if you are obtaining a divorce in Florida and you and your spouse have at least one minor child together. While calculating child support may seem daunting at first, it is actually a formulaic process.
Florida Statute Addressing Child Support
In Florida, the amount of child support is based on the Florida Child Support Guidelines, which are found in Section 61.30 of the Florida Statutes. The primary factor used to calculate child support is the net income of both parents.
Other factors include the number of children involved, health insurance expenses for the children, and the time-sharing schedule. Each factor is examined in turn below.
Calculating Net Income
If child support is at issue in a divorce action, each parent will need to complete and file a financial affidavit with the court. On the financial affidavit, each parent will calculate his or her monthly net income. In order to calculate each parent’s net income, you must first determine each parent’s gross income.
Florida’s child support statute defines gross income broadly, and it includes all of the following:
- Salary and wages
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and similar payments
- Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts
- Disability benefits
- Workers’ compensation benefits and settlements
- Reemployment assistance and unemployment compensation
- Pension, retirement, and annuity payments
- Social security benefits
- Spousal support
- Interest and dividends
- Rental income
- Income from royalties, trusts, and estates
- Reimbursed expenses and in-kind payments that reduce living expenses
- Recurring gains derived from dealings in property
Once gross income is determined, you may subtract certain deductions from the gross income in order to arrive at the net income figure.
Under Florida’s child support statute, the allowable deductions include the following:
- Federal, state, and local income taxes
- Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax
- Mandatory union dues
- Mandatory retirement payments
- Health insurance payments (excluding payments for the child’s coverage, which are factored in separately as discussed below)
- Court-ordered support for other children
- Court-ordered spousal support
After you have subtracted all of the allowable deductions from each parent’s monthly gross income, you have successfully computed each parent’s monthly net income, which will be used for calculating the child support amount. Each parent’s net income should be added together to determine the combined net income of the parents.
The court then consults the Florida Child Support Guidelines in Section 61.30, which provide a grid showing the child support need given the parents’ combined net income and the number of children.
The final step involves assigning a percentage of the obligation to each parent. Each parent’s percentage share of the minimum child support needed is determined by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the total combined net monthly income.
This gives you each parent’s percentage share of the child support obligation.
Number of Overnights
The child support amount also depends on the number of overnights each parent spends with the child. The guidelines presume that as a parent’s time with the child increases, the parent’s monthly obligation should decrease because the more time they have the child in their care, the more they spend on the child.
Accordingly, you must calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child is scheduled to spend with each parent. If the time-sharing schedule provides that the child will spend at least 20% of the overnights of the year—meaning 73 or more overnight visits per year—with each parent, then the court will adjust the child support award.
The more overnights one parent spends with the child, the less the amount of their child support obligation.
Child support orders also factor in the cost of health insurance and other medical expenses for the child. Therefore, you must determine how much each parent pays toward medical insurance and health expenses for the child. After the health insurance cost is added to the basic child support obligation, any amount prepaid by a parent for health-related costs for the child are deducted from that parent’s child support obligation.
A court may order that payment of noncovered medical, dental, and prescription expenses of the child be made by the parents on a percentage basis determined by each parent’s percentage share of the combined net income of the parents.
The Big Picture: Takeaways
Ultimately, each parent has a legal obligation to contribute to their child’s care. Florida has established a formula for determining the proper amount of child support in any given case. The calculation takes into account each parent’s net monthly income, the number of children involved, the time-sharing schedule, and health insurance costs.
If you need assistance calculating child support in your Florida divorce case or have other questions about family law matters, you may contact me directly at (239) 344-1119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.