Nicola Family Law Divorce Attorney

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Child Support

One of the most difficult questions we are asked is "how much child support will I get?" or "how much child support will I pay?"  The question is not easily resolved.  


When the child custody statute was changed, the child support statute was also revamped.  We used to be able to sit down with clients, ask them how much they made, ask them who had the children, and give them a definitive answer, within a small margin, of what the support would be.  This standard has changed.


Now, in order to make a child support calculation, we look at the income considerations on both sides; however, the number one consideration is how much time each parent is spending with the children.  If the parents are sharing overnight parenting time with the children, which is greater than 20% of the overnight parenting time in any calendar year (73 overnights), there is a significant reduction in child support.  The support calculations are made once the parenting time has been established.


The Statute:  The law regarding the calculation of child support is found in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes.  The statute is excepted below:


Income to determine child support:


Income shall be determined on a monthly basis for each parent as follows:

a) Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

1. Salary or wages.

2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
3. Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. "Business income" means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
4. Disability benefits.
5. All workers' compensation benefits and settlements.
6. Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation.
7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
8. Social security benefits.
9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
10. Interest and dividends.
11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
12. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.

 Net income is obtained by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income. Allowable deductions shall include:

(a) Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
(b) Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
(c) Mandatory union dues.
(d) Mandatory retirement payments.
(e) Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
(f) Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
(g) Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.

(4) Net income for each parent shall be computed by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income.


In addition to child support, the Court will award the following

Child Care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income of current employment of either parent shall be added to the basic obligation. After the child care costs are added, any moneys prepaid by a parent for child care costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent's child support obligation for that child or those children. Child care costs may not exceed the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source.

Health Insurance costs resulting from coverage ordered pursuant to s. 61.13(1)(b), and any noncovered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the child, shall be added to the basic obligation unless these expenses have been ordered to be separately paid on a percentage basis. After the health insurance costs are added to the basic obligation, any moneys prepaid by a parent for health-related costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent's child support obligation for that child or those children.


Deviation from the Child Support Guildelines:  The court may adjust the total minimum child support award, or either or both parents' share of the total minimum child support aw ard, based upon the following deviation factors:


1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
2. Independent income of the child, not to include moneys received by a child from supplemental security income.
3. The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
4. Seasonal variations in one or both parents' incomes or expenses.
5. The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
6. Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines.
7. Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.
8. The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order a parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the paying parent is current in support payments.
9. An application of the child support guidelines schedule that requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order.
10. The particular parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 20 percent of the overnights, with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent; or the refusal of a parent to become involved in the activities of the child.
11. Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt. Such expense or debt may include, but is not limited to, a reasonable and necessary expense or debt that the parties jointly incurred during the marriage.

Excepts above taken from Section 61.30, Florida Statutes.  The entire statute can be reviewed at www.flasentate.gov/laws/statutes/2011/61.30