This is an update on “Child Support in Florida: What, When and How Much” dated 6/21/21.
Parents have a duty to support their dependent children until they turn 18, or 19 if they are still in high school.
But they don’t get to decide how much to pay; Child support in Florida is determined by Florida Statutes, referred to here as “the guidelines”. These guidelines are used when child support is first ordered and every time support is modified due to a change of circumstances.
How is child support determined?
The parents of the child(ren) cannot agree to an amount of child support that varies from the guidelines without a court order.
But the Court can order changes to child support payments (-/+ 5%) only after considering relevant factors. These might include the needs of the child(ren), their age, station in life, the standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. To vary from the guidelines by more than 5% the Court must justify the variance by making specific findings.
How much will I have to pay?
This article will explain how to determine the amount that each parent must pay for the support of a child based on the guidelines:
Step #1: The process begins by determining each parent’s gross income (before deductions).
Step #2: The parents’ net incomes are then determined by subtracting the following allowable deductions:
(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.
Step #3: The parents’ net incomes are added to determine a combined net
Step #4: The guidelines in Section 61.30 of the Florida Statutes, are applied to the combined net income of the parents to determine the minimum child support need for one or more children.
Step #5: Child care costs are added to the basic obligation
Step #6: The cost of health insurance coverage and the cost of noncovered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses for the children are also added to the basic obligation.
Step #7: Each parent’s percentage share of the child support need is determined by dividing each parent’s monthly net income by the combined monthly net income.
Parental time spent matters:
How much time a parent spends with his/her child(ren) will affect whether he or she needs to pay child support and if so, in what amount. The Florida Statutes allow for a reduction in child support if the paying parent has the child for more than 20% of the nights in a year. 20% is equivalent to 73 nights over the course of a year.
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