How is Child Support Calculated in Florida?

Federal law mandates all states to have child support guidelines to ensure some measure of consistency in child support awards across the states. Florida child support guidelines are based on the combined incomes of the parents, calculated in a way that parents share child support proportionate to their incomes.

Section 61.30, Fla.Stat. allows certain deductions from each parent’s gross income, such as federal withholding taxes and social security payroll taxes. The parents’ resulting net incomes are added together. The total child support amount is determined by locating the total net income figure in the child support guidelines charts found in s. 61.30 for the number of children entitled to receive child support. Parents pay a proportionate share of the child support guideline amount based on their relative net incomes. If Parent 1 makes 8,000 net monthly and Parent 2 makes 2,000 net monthly, Parent 1 will pay 80% of the total guidelines child support amount and Parent 2 will pay the remaining 20% because Parent 1’s income is 80% of the parents’ combined net monthly $10,000 income.

But this is only a starting point. The Florida child support guidelines allow the court to deviate from the guidelines support amount by up to five percent after considering certain factors. Deviations greater than five percent may occur based on eleven factors specifically listed in the statute. The Florida child support guidelines also require usage of a gross-up calculation of child support if there is substantial time-sharing with the children (twenty percent or more overnights). The gross-up calculation starts with the basic child support obligation calculated for each parent, then mathematically takes into account the fact that two homes are being maintained for the child, the amount of timesharing between parents, while adjusting for childcare and health insurance payments for the children.

The determination of child support obligations under Florida law can be complex in some cases, particularly where one or both parents are self-employed or children spend varying amounts of time with each parent. Unlike many alimony awards, child support awards are modifiable to increase or decrease the amount when one or both parents’ income significantly increases/decreases. Consult with an experienced family law attorney to educate yourself about your child support obligation, the other parent’s child support obligation, and when an established support obligation can be modified.

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