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.

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.

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.

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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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Can I Get Child Support From a Self-Employed Father?


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What Is Considered Income in Florida Child Support?

Income for child support purposes in Florida covers a wide range of sources. It would be fair to say that if you receive income from nearly any source, it will be considered income when the court sets the amount of child support you'll owe. If you are unemployed or underemployed, the court can even impute to you amounts of money you would have made if you were working. There are, however, certain deductions from income that must also be considered when calculating child support.

Massachusetts' Child Support Laws

As in other states, Massachusetts parents must provide financial support for their children, even if the parents are not married. When parents divorce, their divorce court sets a child support amount that the non-custodial parent must pay toward his child's care. In Massachusetts, child support amounts are set by court guidelines and are enforceable by state law.

Wyoming Child Support Laws

When spouses divorce in Wyoming, they remain responsible for providing financial support for their children. To clarify each parent’s responsibilities, Wyoming courts enter child support orders as part of the terms of a divorce decree. Parents must comply with these orders or face significant penalties for nonpayment. However, if circumstances change, courts can modify the support order.

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