Child Support

Table of Contents

The financial support of children is a key aspect of family law matters in which parents are divorcing or are no longer together as a couple. Florida’s policy regarding child support is ensuring that children’s financial needs are met, and that both parents should contribute to the support of their children. If you are involved in a family law matter that includes children, it is critical to understand the basics of child support as child support can have a major impact on the matter, but more importantly, can significantly impact your children’s well-being.

How Child Support Is Calculated

Calculation of child support is based on several factors, including among other things, each party’s income, the number of overnights each party has with the minor children, cost of the children’s insurance, costs of day care, etc. The relevant statute, Florida Statute §61.30 provides a formula for calculating child support. Yet, calculation of child support is not as simple as inputting numbers into the formula. There are other frequent situations that can complicate arriving at the accurate child support figure (for example, a self-employed party, income based on commissions, appropriate deductions, etc.).

  1. Income. The gross income of both parents is the principal consideration in calculating child support. This includes not only wages but also other sources of incomes such as bonuses, overtime, tips, dividends, and other items contained within the 14 mentioned in Florida Statute §61.30. It is essential to provide, and receive, accurate and current financial information to achieve a fair child support calculation.
  2. Deductions. Just as important as determining an accurate income for both parents is making sure that the appropriate deductions are taken out of their gross income. Allowable deductions are income taxes (federal, state, and local); mandatory union dues; mandatory retirement (note, there are very few jobs in which retirement contributions are actually mandatory); and health insurance costs for the parent only, not including any costs for health insurance of the children.
  3. Amount of Time-Sharing. The amount of time-sharing each parent has with the children is a factor that routinely involves issues. This is because with “substantial” time-sharing, parents receive a decrease in the amount of child support owed. The rationale is that as the amount of time spent with the children increases, so does the amount of expenses that parents themselves are providing for the children during their time. Substantial time-sharing is defined as a parent having at least 20% of overnights in a year, or 73 overnights out of the 365 days in a year. The crucial point is that the time-sharing being considered for the calculation is overnights, or which parent’s house the children are sleeping that night and where they get up in the morning.
  4. Health Insurance for the Children and Childcare Costs. Health insurance, including medical, dental, and vision, for the children are factored into the calculation. Further, childcare costs that are necessary during the time a parent is working are also a part of the calculation. Both parents are typically required to share in these costs, and this is accomplished by each parent being responsible for their portion based on the pro rata share of their incomes.

Deviation From Child Support Guidelines

In certain circumstances, the court may choose to deviate from the standard child support guidelines.  There are 11 different circumstances listed in the statute that allow the court to make such a deviation.  For example,  a court may deviate from the standard child support guidelines and adjust the child support amount accordingly where a child has extraordinary medical expenses or special needs. 

Modification Of Child Support

It is important to note that once established, a child support amount is not permanently fixed. When there is a substantial change in circumstances, such as a parent’s decreased income, a child’s increased need, changes in the amount of time a parent spends with the child, etc., child support might be modified. Further, the child support guidelines may be a basis for showing a substantial change in circumstances necessary for a modification; however, the difference in the current child support obligation and the new amount under the guidelines must be at least 15% or $50, whichever amount is greater.

Whether you are the parent having to pay or the parent receiving it, navigating the complexities of child support can be complicated. Artemis Family Law Group can help you establish child support, ensuring that child support calculations are accurate, representing you and your child’s interests, and assisting you with modifications or enforcement as needed. If you would like to discuss child support issues or any other family law matters, please click here to schedule a consultation.

Frequently asked Questions

The short answer – No. Simply because parents are spending an equal amount of time with their child or children does not automatically mean that there will be no child support exchanged. The amount of time-sharing each parent has with the children is only one of the factors considered in calculating child support. The other factors, (i.e., income and which parent pays for health insurance and childcare for the children) also must be considered.

The short answer – No. Along with the other factors, it is your net income that is used in child support calculations. Thus, after the determination of gross income, the only things subtracted from gross income are those deductions which are allowable such as taxes, cost of health insurance for yourself, mandatory union dues, and mandatory retirement.

The short answer – No. Child support is for the benefit of the child. Therefore, parents cannot contract away this benefit which is not theirs. Ultimately, the court has final say over the child support guidelines and child support figures must be approved by the court.

Ready to Secure Your Family's Future?

We understand that these moments can be some of the most stressful in your life. That’s why we promise compassionate counsel backed by unmatched legal expertise.