Child Support Determination

Florida Child Support Guidelines

The amount of child support is calculated by utilizing the, Florida Child Support Guidelines. The Florida legislature adopted the guidelines in 1987. By adopting the guidelines, they sought to make uniform and predictable the amount of child support ordered by the court. The guidelines are generally based upon both parents net income which contemplates that child-support is a shared obligation of both parents.

The current guidelines start at the combined available monthly income of $800 and go up to $10,000 per month. (Above that income, the child support increases by a percentage of the excess: 5% for one child, 7.5% for two children, etc.). They provide a percentage increase for incomes over that amount. The guidelines establish the amount of support do for up to six children.

How is income defined?

The law defines what is included as income for purposes of the Florida child support guidelines. Income includes anything received from work, disability, workers compensation, unemployment, pension, Social Security, alimony, investments (including rentals and trading property), royalties, trusts/estates, reimbursed living expenses and recurring gains derived from dealing in property. A court may impute income to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed. Thus, the court can determine how much a party is capable of making based on the parties job history of employment and use the imputed amount in calculating child support.

The guidelines are based upon the net income of the parties. Thus, before the guidelines are applied, the income of each party is reduced by income tax deductions, F I C A (or self-employment tax), mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement payments; health insurance payments (excluding children's coverage) and court ordered support for a parties other children. Also, factored into the guidelines chart is the cost of the children's health insurance and the daycare expenses. The amount of timesharing overnights enjoyed by each parent Is also factored in to calculate the final child-support number. Timesharing overnights does not affect child support unless a party has more than 20% of the total overnights.

The court can adjust the support obligation for special circumstances, such as extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses; independent income of children; if a party has to pay alimony in addition to child-support; the ages of the children; special needs traditionally met the family and total assets available to everyone involved.

Myths and misconceptions

Child-support is not based upon a percentage of a parents income. As stated above, the Florida child support guidelines determine the amount of child support. Either parent can be obligated to pay child support depending upon the application of the guidelines. A violation of the timesharing provision does not give the paying parent the right to withhold child-support. Likewise, a parent cannot withhold timesharing in retaliation for not receiving child support. The paying parent has no say in how the receiving parent utilizes child-support. The recipient of the child-support has sole discretion in how the child support will be spent. Gifts made to a child or items purchased for the child do not constitute child-support. When a child reaches the age of majority the child support is subject to modification. However, the child support is not reduced in equal proportion. For example, if one of two children reaches majority the child support is not cut in half. Instead, child-support must be recalculated based upon the current child-support guidelines.

Conclusion

By use of the guidelines, the law provides relative certainty. Once the parties income is known and/or agreed-upon, the issue of child support is usually settled by the parties. The law offices of West Palm Beach divorce attorney, Stephen J. Press, with more than 40 years' experience, strives to protect your rights with professional excellence. Please contact the law offices of Stephen J. Press at 561-833-2772 for a free consultation or contact us online.