Child support disputes are often one of the most contentious parts of any divorce or paternity case, and it's not hard to see why. The outcome of a child support case can have a significant financial impact on the parties involved and either help or hinder the child's success.
Knowing roughly how much you should expect to pay in child support can help you budget for the future and approach your case more effectively, ensuring you receive an equitable judgment from the court.
How Do Florida Courts Calculate Child Support?
Florida courts use a formula based on both parents' cumulative gross income to determine how much child support a child needs to maintain their health and well-being.
Before we go on, it's important to note that the kind of custody arrangement you have with your child's other parent may play a significant role in the amount of child support you pay or receive.
Typically, the noncustodial parent (who the child spends a minority of their time with) is responsible for child support. But if both parents have a relatively equal timeshare arrangement—let's say the noncustodial parent has custody 47% of the time—they'll pay less in child support than if they only have custody 20% of the time.
Child support is supposed to even out the custodial parent's burden, so the more equal the timeshare is, the less the noncustodial parent may be asked to pay.
Your gross income is your total monthly income before any deductions (income taxes, etc.) are factored in. Your monthly income doesn't only include your salary—any source of capital, such as investment accounts, commissions, benefits, tips, etc., also count towards your monthly income.
Once the court calculated the combined gross monthly income of both parents, they use that figure to determine how much child support the noncustodial parent should pay based on the number of children the parents share.
This comprehensive chart by Florida courts shows how much child support parents can expect to owe based on the afore-mentioned factors. For example, according to the chart, the noncustodial parent must pay $536 in child support for one child if the combined monthly income of the parents is $2,450.
However, in addition to the custody arrangement, a variety of other components can play into the child support judgment. Factors like whether the noncustodial parent is already on the hook for other child support arrangements, how the child's health insurance is paid for, etc., can all affect the child support amount.
The relative flexibility of child support arrangements makes it crucial to have a child support attorney on your side if you're involved in a child support dispute. An experienced lawyer can help you ensure you receive an equitable support judgment from the court.