As a family and divorce attorney in Plantation, Florida, the first question I am often asked during a prospective client meeting is, “How to calculate child support?” As such, I have created a simplified “cheat sheet” relying on Florida Statute 61.30 – Child Support Guidelines.
61.30 provides the framework for the Court to use when calculating child support.
In brief, the Court should order payment of child support relying on the “guideline amounts”, after considering such factors as, “needs of the child”, “age”, “station in life”, “standard of living”, and the “financial status of each parent”.
Once the Court orders child support, either parent can seek a modification (upwards or downwards) provided there is a substantial change in circumstances.
A substantial change in circumstances is when “the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines is at least 15% or $50.00 whichever is greater.
Child support is calculated on net monthly income (gross monthly income – allowable deductions).
Net income from each parent shall be added together for a combined net monthly income. Each parent’s percentage share of the child shall need shall be determined by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the combined net monthly income.
Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
Net monthly income is calculated by subtracting the allowable deductions from the parent’s gross monthly income.
Allowable deductions include the following:
Monthly income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if such unemployment or underemployment is found by the Court to be voluntary on the parent’s part (absent the finding of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control).
In the event of voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the employment potential and probable earnings of the parent shall be determined based upon his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community.
The Court may refuse to impute income to a parent if the Court finds it necessary for that parent to stay home with the child who is the subject of a child support calculation.
61.30 includes a child support guideline worksheet to determine the minimum child support need.
The top line includes the number of children that require support.
The side line includes the parents’ combined monthly net income.
Matching up the number of children with the parents’ combined monthly net income determines the minimum child support need.
Although this “cheat sheet” will not duplicate the child support guidelines worksheet, it will provide a
few examples for review.
Please note that child care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income shall be added to the basic obligation.
Health insurance costs and any non-covered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the child shall also be added to the basic obligation.
Additionally, the Court may adjust the total minimum child support award based upon deviation factors, including but not limited to:
Two children. Parents’ combined monthly net income totaling $2,200.00. The total minimum child support is $751.00.
One child. Parents’ combined monthly net income totaling $3,600.00. The total minimum child support is $757.00.
Four children. Parents’ combined monthly net income totaling $3,600.00. The total minimum child support is $1,662.00.
Two children. Parents’ combined monthly net income of $5,500.00. The total minimum child support is 1,657.00.
Whenever a parenting plans provides that each child spend a substantial amount of time with each parent the Court shall adjust any award of child support as follows: (a substantial amount of time means that a parent exercises time-sharing at least 20% of the overnights of the year).
In an initial determination of child support, whether in a paternity action, dissolution of marriage (divorce), or petition for support during the marriage, the Court has discretion to award child support retroactive to the date when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child, not to exceed a period of 24 months preceding the filing of the petition.
If you or a family member is interested in determining how much does each parent will owe in child support please call the Plantation, Florida family law and divorce attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin at 954.462.8035 for a free consultation.
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