The calculation and determination of child support, if any, is a necessary part of every case involving minor children. Every parent has the obligation to financially support their child. However, the right to child support actually belongs to the child. The amount of support to be exchanged between parties, along with the enforcement of said support is the subject of expensive and often time-consuming litigation across the nation.
Florida's child support statute is located in Chapter 61.30, and states:
(1)(a) The child support guideline amount as determined by this section presumptively establishes the amount the trier of fact shall order as child support in an initial proceeding for such support or in a proceeding for modification of an existing order for such support.
(2) Income shall be determined on a monthly basis for each parent as follows:(a) Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
1. Salary or wages.
2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
3. Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
4. Disability benefits.
5. All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements.
6. Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation.
7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
8. Social security benefits.
9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
10. Interest and dividends.
11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
12. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
(b) Monthly income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if such unemployment or underemployment is found by the court to be voluntary on that parent’s part, absent a finding of fact by the court of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control. In the event of such voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the employment potential and probable earnings level of the parent shall be determined based upon his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community if such information is available. If the information concerning a parent’s income is unavailable, a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or a parent fails to supply adequate financial information in a child support proceeding, income shall be automatically imputed to the parent and there is a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census. However, the court may refuse to impute income to a parent if the court finds it necessary for that parent to stay home with the child who is the subject of a child support calculation or as set forth below:1. In order for the court to impute income at an amount other than the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census, the court must make specific findings of fact consistent with the requirements of this paragraph. The party seeking to impute income has the burden to present competent, substantial evidence that:
a. The unemployment or underemployment is voluntary; and
b. Identifies the amount and source of the imputed income, through evidence of income from available employment for which the party is suitably qualified by education, experience, current licensure, or geographic location, with due consideration being given to the parties’ time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.
(3) Net income is obtained by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income. Allowable deductions shall include:
(a) Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
(b) Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
(c) Mandatory union dues.
(d) Mandatory retirement payments.
(e) Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
(f) Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
(g) Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.
(4) Net income for each parent shall be computed by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income.
(5) Net income for each parent shall be added together for a combined net income.
(6) The following guidelines schedule shall be applied to the combined net income to determine the minimum child support need.....[see last paragraph below re: guideline calculators].
(7) Child care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income of current employment of either parent shall be added to the basic obligation. After the child care costs are added, any moneys prepaid by a parent for child care costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children. Child care costs may not exceed the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source.
(8) Health insurance costs resulting from coverage ordered pursuant to s. 61.13(1)(b), and any noncovered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the child, shall be added to the basic obligation unless these expenses have been ordered to be separately paid on a percentage basis. After the health insurance costs are added to the basic obligation, any moneys prepaid by a parent for health-related costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children.
(9) Each parent’s percentage share of the child support need shall be determined by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the combined net monthly income.
(10) Each parent’s actual dollar share of the total minimum child support need shall be determined by multiplying the minimum child support need by each parent’s percentage share of the combined monthly net income.
(11)(a) The court may adjust the total minimum child support award, or either or both parents’ share of the total minimum child support award, based upon the following deviation factors:
1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
2. Independent income of the child, not to include moneys received by a child from supplemental security income.
3. The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
4. Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses.
5. The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
6. Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines.
7. Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.
8. The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order a parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the paying parent is current in support payments.
9. An application of the child support guidelines schedule that requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order.
10. The particular parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 20 percent of the overnights, with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent; or the refusal of a parent to become involved in the activities of the child.
11. Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt. Such expense or debt may include, but is not limited to, a reasonable and necessary expense or debt that the parties jointly incurred during the marriage.
(b) Whenever a particular parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties provides that each child spend a substantial amount of time with each parent, the court shall adjust any award of child support, as follows:
1. In accordance with subsections (9) and (10), calculate the amount of support obligation apportioned to each parent without including day care and health insurance costs in the calculation and multiply the amount by 1.5.
2. Calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child spends with each parent.
3. Multiply each parent’s support obligation as calculated in subparagraph 1. by the percentage of the other parent’s overnight stays with the child as calculated in subparagraph 2.
4. The difference between the amounts calculated in subparagraph 3. shall be the monetary transfer necessary between the parents for the care of the child, subject to an adjustment for day care and health insurance expenses.
5. Pursuant to subsections (7) and (8), calculate the net amounts owed by each parent for the expenses incurred for day care and health insurance coverage for the child.
6. Adjust the support obligation owed by each parent pursuant to subparagraph 4. by crediting or debiting the amount calculated in subparagraph 5. This amount represents the child support which must be exchanged between the parents.
7. The court may deviate from the child support amount calculated pursuant to subparagraph 6. based upon the deviation factors in paragraph (a), as well as the obligee parent’s low income and ability to maintain the basic necessities of the home for the child, the likelihood that either parent will actually exercise the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties, and whether all of the children are exercising the same time-sharing schedule.
Child Support Guideline Calculators are readily available online, however, due to the variables involved, we have not provided one here. If you would like to obtain an estimated child support calculation for your case, please contact us for an initial consultation.