Child Support Guidelines in Florida

By Marilyn Lindblad

Child support guidelines help ensure that the child support payments Florida judges order in divorce cases are fair and consistent. The guidelines take the mother's income, father's income and needs of the child into consideration. Judges are not required to follow the guidelines to the dollar; they have discretion to make adjustments to child support orders as needed.

Child support guidelines help ensure that the child support payments Florida judges order in divorce cases are fair and consistent. The guidelines take the mother's income, father's income and needs of the child into consideration. Judges are not required to follow the guidelines to the dollar; they have discretion to make adjustments to child support orders as needed.

Gross Income

Florida law calculates income for the child support guidelines by first determining the gross income of each parent. A parent must count income from every source, including, for example, wages, tips, bonuses, unemployment, disability, Social Security, workers' compensation, spousal support and the like. If a parent is unemployed or underemployed, a judge may impute gross income to that parent based on U.S. census data that establishes the median income of a full-time worker. The practice of imputing income to an unemployed parent gives a judge the flexibility to follow the child support guidelines without penalizing a child whose parent tries to get out of paying support by being voluntary unemployed.

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Net Income

The parents' total net income determines how much child support they owe their children. To calculate net income, the court subtracts allowable deductions from gross income. Allowable deductions include items such as local, state and federal taxes, the parent's health insurance costs, mandatory union dues and child support and health insurance costs that a parent pays for other children. A parent cannot make any deductions from gross income except those allowed by Florida law.

Child Support Calculation

The Florida child support guidelines allot an amount of money that a child needs each month based on the parents' total net income and on the number of children receiving support. The court then divides each parent's net monthly income by the parents' total net monthly income to establish each parent's percentage share of the child's financial support needs. The guidelines presume the noncustodial parent should pay his or her percentage share of the child's needs as support and that the court will award this amount.

Adjustments

The child support guidelines establish a presumptive amount of child support, but courts have discretion to adjust the guidelines to increase or decrease the amount of child support. In making this determination, the court considers factors such as extraordinary medical or educational expenses, independent income of the child, increased financial needs of older children and disabled children, the amount of time the child spends with each parent and so forth. If a judge orders child support in an amount that varies from the guideline amount by more than 5 percent, the judge must provide a written explanation for the variation.

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The 8 Major Steps in Calculating Child Support in the State of New Jersey

References

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How to Compute Child Support Payments in Michigan

Calculating child support under Michigan law can be confusing and complicated. The state uses the income shares model, meaning that child support should provide the children with the same lifestyle they had before the parents divorced. However, in Michigan, only the custodial parent receives child support. To calculate support, the state will consider the income of both parents and other factors concerning additional children, child care and medical needs. The state uses a number of formulas and calculations to take into account all the relevant factors. You may seek assistance from the state to verify your calculations.

How Are Child Support Costs Figured Out in California?

Like many other states, California has established statewide child support guidelines to provide consistent child support awards for similarly-situated parents throughout the state. The amount of support ordered is based on two factors: the net income of both parents and the amount of time each parent has custody of the child. Attorneys and judges use computer programs to produce a final support figure. The amount awarded is subject to periodic adjustments to accommodate changes in circumstances.

How Do I Calculate Disposable Net Income for Child Support Payments?

States take the position that both parents are responsible for financially supporting their children after divorce. When one parent has more overnights with a child under a custody order, she is generally entitled to support payments from the other parent. Some states calculate the obligation based on a percentage of the parents' combined net incomes, while others look at only the net income of the parent who pays child support. In either case, knowing what is included in net income is typically an important first step in calculating child support.

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