Florida uses standard child support guidelines for determining child support obligations. The guidelines provide a base amount. However, courts can deviate from Florida child support guidelines for numerous reasons.
Understanding how child support is calculated in Florida is important if you are going through a divorce or child custody case. Working with an experienced Orlando child support lawyer is also crucial. An attorney will help ensure that you pay/receive the correct amount of support payments based on the facts of your case.
What Information Is Used When Calculating Child Support in Florida?
The child support guidelines use four primary elements to determine child support payments.
The factors used to calculate child support are:
- Each parent’s income
- Time-sharing (visitation) schedule
- Health insurance costs
- Child care costs
Income is one of the crucial factors used to calculate child support obligations. A parent pays child support based on their income and earning potential. Therefore, it is essential that your income is correctly represented so that your child support obligation is calculated accurately.
Income for child support purposes includes earnings and other forms of revenue.
Examples of income include:
- Wages and salaries
- Overtime pay
- Bonuses and commissions
- Spousal support from a prior marriage
- Reemployment assistance
- Business income
- Disability income, workers’ compensation benefits, and Social Security
- Rental income
- Self-employment and independent contractor income
- Dividends and interest
- Retirement income
- Investment income
The amount of time you spend with your child (i.e., time-sharing) is another crucial component of child support calculations. If your child spends more than 20% of the nights in a year with you, it could substantially impact the amount of child support you pay or receive.
Parents are expected to pay a fair share of the child’s health insurance premiums and childcare costs. These costs are necessary, so they are added to the base child support obligation.
Calculating Child Support Payments in Orlando, FL
Florida uses an Income Shares Model for child support obligations. The state attempts to determine how much money the parents would spend caring for their children if they remained together.
The child support guidelines determine the child support obligation based on the number of children to be supported and the parents’ net incomes. This figure is the presumptive amount of child support. Health insurance and child care costs are added to that amount and split between the parents based on their respective incomes.
The amount of child support based on the guidelines is a presumptive amount. It is expected that the judge will order this amount for child support. However, the judge can deviate from this amount for several reasons.
Deviations From the Florida Child Support Guidelines
Judges in Florida have the discretion to deviate from the child support guidelines by five percent above or below the presumptive support amount. However, the judge must explain in the child support order why they deviated from the guidelines.
A parent asking for a deviation from child support must file a motion with the court. The motion explains the reasons for the deviation.
Reasons the court might deviate from child support guidelines include, but are not limited to:
- The time-sharing schedule requires a parent to pay high travel costs
- The child receives income or public benefits
- The family has extraordinary dental, psychological, medical, or educational expenses
- The child has special needs that exceed the expenses of an average child
- The burden of the impact of tax situations, including the dependency exemption, child care credit, or Earned Income Credit
- The parent receiving support cannot provide a home and basic necessities for the family because their income is too low
- The total assets of either the parent or the child are sufficient to justify a deviation
- The child support calculated by the guidelines requires a parent to pay more than 55% of their income as child support
- One or both parents have seasonal income
If you or your child has extraordinary expenses or there are situations that impact the family finances, tell your Orlando child support attorney. Those factors could justify a deviation from child support guidelines in your favor.
Modifying Child Support Payments in Orlando, FL
Child support can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
Reasons for modifying child support include:
- Substantial changes in income
- The child develops special needs
- A parent can no longer work because of a severe illness or disability
- An increase in cost of living expenses
- Changes in child custody and/or time-sharing
- Increases in healthcare costs
Even if you ask to modify child support, the same guidelines apply. If you ask for a deviation from the guidelines as part of the modification, you must prove that the deviation is justified.
Child support guidelines are meant to simplify calculations and make child support obligations fair. However, some situations are complicated. An experienced Orlando child support lawyer understands the guidelines and the law governing support payments.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803