In the State of Florida, parents have an obligation to financially provide for their children. This obligation is in place regardless of whether or not the parents are married. That is why child support comes into play during divorce proceedings. When determining child support, a judge will follow a strict set of guidelines.
What Is Considered When Determining Child Support?
Pursuant to Florida law, courts follow an “Income Shares Model” in child support calculations. This means that courts estimate the amount of money the parents would spend on the children should the family be living in one household intact. This amount is then divided between the parents based on their respective income levels.
The Florida Child Support Guidelines are used to calculate child support payments. In order for the guidelines to be completed, each parent must file financial affidavits and exchange them with each other. These affidavits are used to verify the income and expenses of each parent. The information provided in the affidavits is used to fill out the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. What the guidelines do is calculate the child support obligation based on the number of children and the combined net incomes of the parents. The combined net incomes include the gross income of each parent with allowable deductions subtracted. The gross income amount includes the majority of different types of both earned and unearned income. For instance, gross income will include things like:
- Dividend payments
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Retirement benefits
Deductions that may be taken to reach the net income of a parent include:
- Federal income tax deductions
- Qualifying health insurance premiums
- Social Security payments
- Spousal support payments (alimony)
- Court-ordered child support payments (for children from previous relationships)
The information provided in the financial affidavits are entered into the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet in order to arrive at the basic child support amount. This basic child support amount is then allocated between the parents in proportion to each other’s income. In addition to income, the allocation will depend on things like custody and visitation. For instance, the annual number of overnights with a parent will be relevant to the calculation.
Judges do not have much ability in deviating from child support guidelines. In fact, a judge only has the ability to vary within five percent over or under the guidelines and this is only under certain circumstances. When deviating from the guideline amount, it must be deemed necessary based on factors that include things like a parent’s ability to pay and the special needs of the child.
Florida Child Support Attorneys
Child support calculations are complex and there are a variety of factors at play. Child support payments can have a significant impact on the finances of both the payor and the recipient. It is important that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. The trusted Florida child support attorneys at the Orlando Family Team will answer your child support questions and concerns. Contact us today.