Many times people come to us and they have agreed to all the terms of their divorce or separation but they cannot come to an agreement on the amount of child support to be paid. However, fighting over an amount of child support is really a waste of time. The Courts in Florida award child support pursuant to a child support calculation which is outlined in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes (“the Guidelines”). The Court may vary an award of child support plus or minus 5% or more from the amount indicated under the Guidelines based on factors including the special needs of the child and standard of living of the parties during the marriage, but generally Judges will award child support based upon a strict calculation of the guidelines.
In making a determination of an award of child support based upon the Guidelines, the Court takes into consideration the monthly income of both parties. The statute lists numerous sources of income which should be used in the calculation of child support. Those sources obviously include income from employment but also include unemployment compensation and social security benefits; pension and retirement income; income from investments, bonuses, sales commission, and rental income; and side jobs that may result in income to a party.
The Court then calculates deductions from a party’s gross income in the form of taxes, mandatory dues or retirement payments, health insurance coverage, Court-ordered child support for other children actually paid, and spousal support paid from a previous marriage to come to the net income amount that is utilized in the Guidelines for calculation of child support. In some circumstances, we find that a parent has voluntarily quit a job or simply lost a job during the proceedings and the Courts have the option to impute a reasonable wage to that parent in calculating child support if it finds that a parent is voluntarily underemployed and is not cooperating in the process.
The child support guideline statute requires that we input the number of overnights yearly that each party has with the child so that the parent’s time sharing percentage is factored into the child support calculation. Lastly, the calculation also includes the cost of health insurance incurred by either party for the children and the cost of child care that may be required by either parent. All of these factors are included in the Guidelines’ child support calculation which provides the Court with the child support required under each particular timesharing scenario.
A copy of the Florida Statute and a sample child support calculation worksheet is available by e-mail from our office if you would find it helpful to review the specific wording or the calculations involved.
When you file a divorce, paternity or for child support in the state of Florida, the Court requires each party provide the financial documents necessary to obtain an accurate picture of that party’s true income along with documentation of the cost of health insurance covering the child (if any) and verification of any child care costs in order to properly calculate child support.
Attorney Clay Morgan of M&B Family Law & Mediation Services will assist you in understanding all the factors the Court will utilize in calculating child support under the Guidelines, and will provide you with an accurate estimate of your child support obligation.