How Child Support Is Calculated in Florida

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Child support in Florida is calculated using the income shares model. This model is divided between the two parents based on their incomes. Courts estimate how much money the parents would have spent on their children if they were still together.

Understanding the various aspects of calculating child support payments is essential to prepare parents for the court's decision. Let's take a look at some of those factors.

Gross Income

Gross income is the first factor used to calculate child support payments in Florida. Gross income includes all wages, salaries, or other compensation earned by either party and any money received from investments or other sources such as Social Security or disability benefits.

The court will also consider potential income when calculating child support payments; this includes income that could reasonably be expected to be earned if someone was working full-time but is currently unemployed or underemployed.

Number of Children

The number of children involved in the case is another factor considered when calculating child support payments in Florida. For example, if there are two children involved in the case, then each parent will typically pay half of the total amount due for child support; however, if there are three children involved, then one parent may be ordered to pay a more significant portion than the other depending on their respective incomes and other factors deemed relevant by the court.

Parenting Time

In addition to income and number of children, parenting time can also affect how much each parent pays for child support. Generally speaking, a parent with more parenting time (i.e., physical custody) with their child will receive less child support than a parent with less parenting time (i.e., legal custody). This is because when one parent has more physical custody, they are considered to have greater responsibility for providing care and financial support for their child(ren).

Steps for Calculating Child Support

You should review Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(e) to calculate your child support. This document can guide you through the process.

The steps to estimate how much child support the court can order in your case are as follows:

  1. Calculate each parent's monthly net income. No more than 45 days after filing for child support, both parties must complete a financial affidavit. You will complete the affidavit based on your annual income; there are two forms—one for those with incomes under $50,0000 and another for those above $50,000.
  2. Determine what your combined available monthly income is. Add both parent's monthly net incomes together.
  3. Determine what each party's percentage of responsibility is. Divide your (or your partner's) net income by the combined monthly net income and multiply the results by 100 to determine your percentage of financial responsibility. For instance, let's say you have a net income of $3,000, and both parties' combined monthly net income is $6,500. Multiply .46 by 100 to get your percentage of financial responsibility (46%).
  4. Determine the primary monthly obligation. Review Form 12.902(e) (the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet) and review the table with the combined monthly income in the first column to find your obligation. Using our previous example, if you have two children and your combined monthly payment is $6500, your primary monthly obligation is $1819.
  5. Calculate each party's obligation. When determining the primary monthly responsibility, consider the time-sharing each parent has. For those with under 20% (less than 73 nights annually), utilize the standard primary monthly obligation. If both parents share at least 20% (73+ nights), multiply the primary duty by 1.5 to account for two households' needs, and proceed using this adjusted figure. Determine each parent's financial contribution by multiplying their responsibility percentages (from Step 3) with the primary or increased obligation amount. Perform this calculation for both parents to identify their shares.
  6. Adjust the obligation based on time-sharing responsibilities. Discover each parent's adjusted monthly obligation by multiplying their share of the increased primary responsibility (determined in Step 5) with the other parent's time-sharing percentage. You can skip this step if either party has less than 20% of the time-sharing responsibilities.
  7. Make adjustments for other expenses. To calculate a parent's share of childcare and health expenses for their children, find the combined monthly total of these costs. Next, determine their respective share by using the parent's responsibility percentage (from Step 3). If one parent pays beyond their claim, the additional amount must be shifted to the other parent's obligation.
  8. Determine the monthly payment amount. Whichever parent has the more outstanding obligation will be the other party. Deduct the lower responsibility from the higher one to determine the monthly payment amount.

It is important to note that judges can make adjustments and deviate from the child support amount determined by the formal. They must explain and provide written justification for the deviation.

Consult with Our Firm

Understanding how your state calculates its guidelines for determining appropriate child support levels can help you better understand your potential financial responsibilities. By understanding these different factors—gross income, number of children involved in the case, and parenting time—you can also be better prepared when discussing your situation with an attorney.

At the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher, our child support attorney is backed by over 20 years of experience. If you are involved in a child custody and support case, our firm can help you smoothly navigate the process and calculate your potential support payment. We can advise you and offer personalized counsel concerning your next steps.

Contact our team today by calling (352) 503-4111 or completing our online contact form.

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