Florida Child Support Regulations

By Heather Frances J.D.

Each state has different rules when it comes to child support, but Florida allocates the support amount between parents based on each parent’s share of the spouses’ combined income. This model of determining child support, called the income shares model, is based on the idea that children should receive the same financial support during the divorce process, and once the divorce is finalized, as they received when their parents were still married.

Each state has different rules when it comes to child support, but Florida allocates the support amount between parents based on each parent’s share of the spouses’ combined income. This model of determining child support, called the income shares model, is based on the idea that children should receive the same financial support during the divorce process, and once the divorce is finalized, as they received when their parents were still married.

Parents' Income

The basis for Florida’s child support calculations is each parent’s gross income, which includes wages, bonuses, commissions, business income, disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, pension payments, social security benefits and rental income, among other types of income. Public assistance payments are specifically excluded from a parent’s gross income. Florida courts impute certain income to parents who are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, so the court can calculate a parent’s child support payments as if the parent earned more money than he actually does.

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Additional Costs

Once the court determines a parent’s gross income, it deducts certain mandatory payments, like taxes, from the amount to arrive at each parent’s net income. This figure is used to determine the percentage of support each parent is responsible for. The court can further adjust the child support amount, or a parent's share of it, to account for certain additional expenses, such as the child's health insurance premiums, non-covered medical expenses and day care.

Paying Child Support

In Florida, a paying parent does not pay child support directly to the recipient parent. Florida law requires courts to enter a separate income deduction order once the court enters a child support order. The income deduction order requires the paying parent’s employer to deduct the child support payments directly from the paying parent’s wages, plus past due amounts, if any. Payments for child support orders issued in 1994 or after must be sent directly to the State Disbursement Unit for distribution to the recipient parent.

Deviation from Guidelines

Florida courts can deviate from the child support guidelines, when appropriate, after considering several factors. These include extraordinary medical expenses, the age of the child and the particular parenting plan for that child. For example, if a parenting plan permits the child to spend significant amounts of time with the paying parent, but less than 20 percent of his overnights, the court could reduce the amount of child support the paying parent must pay since the amount of time the child spends with that parent reduces the other parent’s expenses. When a parenting plan’s terms direct that a child spend at least 20 percent of his overnights with the paying parent, Florida’s guidelines have an additional formula that takes these overnights into consideration and adjusts the child support amount accordingly.

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Does Florida's Child Support Include Your Spouse's Income?

References

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New Jersey Child Support Questions

In New Jersey, as in other states, when a child lives with a parent after divorce that parent does not bear the financial burden of supporting the child alone. Instead, state law requires that the other, non-custodial, parent pay a fair share of the child's expenses. This is known as child support -- and it is calculated according to a specific formula.

Missouri Statutes on Divorce & Child Support

In Missouri, the courts use the "income shares model" to calculate child support payments. The income shares model is intended to ensure that a child receives the same proportion of parental income that she would have received if the parents had not divorced. The model determines child support based on how much each parent earns. According to Missouri law, the court can deviate from the income shares model under certain circumstances.

The Florida Divorce Health Insurance Deduction

In a Florida divorce case, state law replaces "custody" with a time-sharing principle based on how many overnights a child spends with each parent. If the divorce involves child support, the contribution of each parent to health insurance premiums may become an issue. Depending on who's paying the insurance charge, the court may adjust the monthly support amount owed by one parent to the other.

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