Calculating child support in Florida is based on the “Income Shares Model.” This means that Florida courts apply a statutory formula to estimate how much will be spent on caring for the children based on the income of both parents. The formula used in Florida’s child support guidelines takes the income of each parent and takes all applicable deductions. Then, the amount of timesharing between the parents, based on the number of overnights, is accounted for to reach a base child support amount. From there, the pro rata childcare costs of each parent as well as health insurance expenses is calculated. Employing this formula means that the Florida child support calculation is relatively straightforward. It is an important issue that can have a major impact on the parents and families involved. That is why it is a good idea to review the process for calculating child support and estimating what you might end up owing or might end up being owed.
Are There Caps in Child Support?
There is no actual cap on the amount of a person’s monthly child support obligation. The statutory formula used to calculate a child support obligation, however, means that the obligation should never exceed a person’s ability to pay. The court will review the standard of living of a child prior to divorce and set up the calculation in a way that the child will continue to enjoy the same or similar standard of living after divorce. Also, the court works to ensure that the payments are fair relative to the paying parent’s income level. This is because a parent’s ability to pay is a central factor in the child support calculation.
To start the calculation, the gross monthly of both parents is calculated by including things such as salary, bonuses, interest earned, dividends received, disability benefits, unemployment compensation, and spousal support, among other sources of income. Some things, such as income tax, will be deducted from the gross monthly income. The child support guidelines then evaluate how many overnights the child will spend with each parents pursuant to the established parenting plan. Health insurance costs and out-of-pocket medical expenses are included in the child support calculations along with any childcare costs such as daycare or afterschool care.
As you can see, while there is no set amount regarding a cap on child support in Florida, the child support calculation is based on firm, objective numbers. Because of the formula, the child support obligation should never end up exceeding a parent’s ability to pay. The court has some discretion to deviate from the child support guidelines, but does not have very wide latitude with this. The court may vary within 5 percent of the child support amount generated by the guidelines. If the court wishes to vary more than 5 percent, then a written order must be drawn up with an explanation as to why the guideline payments would be insufficient or otherwise inappropriate.
Florida Family Law Attorneys
While the child support formula employed by Florida courts seems relatively straightforward, it can also be complicated, particularly if you are not used to this kind of legal proceeding. The dedicated child support attorneys at Orlando Family Team will not only explain the entire process to you, but are here to advocate for your best interests and those of your family. Contact us today.