How is child support calculated when parents divorce or separate?

In the State of Florida, in accord with Fla. Stat. 61.30, both biological or legal parents have an obligation to share in the responsibility of sharing the financial burden of supporting their children regardless of the parent’s individual income. Florida Statute specifically lays out child support guidelines, designed to provide for the best interests of the child’s health and welfare, the courts use to determine the appropriate amount of child support. These guidelines provide for support to be apportioned, on a pro rata basis considering each parents income and assets, and are followed unless there is an agreement by the parents as to an alternative amount of child support that is considered both fair and reasonable by the court. The Florida guidelines must take into consideration both parents’ earnings and income and the health care needs of the children. The purpose of the state’s guidelines is to insure the child’s standard of living is equivalent to what it would be if the family was intact. The obligation for child support can be for current and future needs as well as past obligations, and may be modified by court order from time to time based upon a substantial change in circumstances. The full text of Fla. Stat 61.30 is included for your review.

61.30 Child support guidelines; retroactive child support.

(1)(a) The child support guideline amount as determined by this section presumptively establishes the amount the trier of fact shall order as child support in an initial proceeding for such support or in a proceeding for modification of an existing order for such support, whether the proceeding arises under this or another chapter. The trier of fact may order payment of child support which varies, plus or minus 5 percent, from the guideline amount, after considering all relevant factors, including the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. The trier of fact may order payment of child support in an amount which varies more than 5 percent from such guideline amount only upon a written finding explaining why ordering payment of such guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate. Notwithstanding the variance limitations of this section, the trier of fact shall order payment of child support which varies from the guideline amount as provided in paragraph (11)(b) whenever any of the children are required by court order or mediation agreement to spend a substantial amount of time with either parent. This requirement applies to any living arrangement, whether temporary or permanent.

(b) The guidelines may provide the basis for proving a substantial change in circumstances upon which a modification of an existing order may be granted. However, the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines shall be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater, before the court may find that the guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances.

(c) For each support order reviewed by the department as required by s. 409.2564(11), if the amount of the child support award under the order differs by at least 10 percent but not less than $25 from the amount that would be awarded under s. 61.30, the department shall seek to have the order modified and any modification shall be made without a requirement for proof or showing of a change in circumstances.

(2) Income shall be determined on a monthly basis for each parent as follows:

(a) Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

1. Salary or wages.

2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.

3. Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.

4. Disability benefits.

5. All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements.

6. Unemployment compensation.

7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.

8. Social security benefits.

9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.

10. Interest and dividends.

11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.

12. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.

13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.

14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.

(b) 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 that parent’s part, absent a finding of fact by the court of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control. In the event of such voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the employment potential and probable earnings level of the parent shall be determined based upon his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community if such information is available. If the information concerning a parent’s income is unavailable, a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or a parent fails to supply adequate financial information in a child support proceeding, income shall be automatically imputed to the parent and there is a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census. However, 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 or as set forth below:

1. In order for the court to impute income at an amount other than the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census, the court must make specific findings of fact consistent with the requirements of this paragraph. The party seeking to impute income has the burden to present competent, substantial evidence that:

a. The unemployment or underemployment is voluntary; and

b. Identifies the amount and source of the imputed income, through evidence of income from available employment for which the party is suitably qualified by education, experience, current licensure, or geographic location, with due consideration being given to the parties’ time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.

2. Except as set forth in subparagraph 1., income may not be imputed based upon:

a. Income records that are more than 5 years old at the time of the hearing or trial at which imputation is sought; or

b. Income at a level that a party has never earned in the past, unless recently degreed, licensed, certified, relicensed, or recertified and thus qualified for, subject to geographic location, with due consideration of the parties’ existing time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.

(c) Public assistance as defined in s. 409.2554 shall be excluded from gross income.

(3) Net income is obtained by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income. Allowable deductions shall include:

(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.

(4) Net income for each parent shall be computed by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income.

(5) Net income for each parent shall be added together for a combined net income.

(6) The following guidelines schedule shall be applied to the combined net income to determine the minimum child support need:

Combined

Monthly Net Child or Children

Income One Two Three Four Five Six

800.00 190 211 213 216 218 220

850.00 202 257 259 262 265 268

900.00 213 302 305 309 312 315

950.00 224 347 351 355 359 363

1000.00 235 365 397 402 406 410

1050.00 246 382 443 448 453 458

1100.00 258 400 489 495 500 505

1150.00 269 417 522 541 547 553

1200.00 280 435 544 588 594 600

1250.00 290 451 565 634 641 648

1300.00 300 467 584 659 688 695

1350.00 310 482 603 681 735 743

1400.00 320 498 623 702 765 790

1450.00 330 513 642 724 789 838

1500.00 340 529 662 746 813 869

1550.00 350 544 681 768 836 895

1600.00 360 560 701 790 860 920

1650.00 370 575 720 812 884 945

1700.00 380 591 740 833 907 971

1750.00 390 606 759 855 931 996

1800.00 400 622 779 877 955 1022

1850.00 410 638 798 900 979 1048

1900.00 421 654 818 923 1004 1074

1950.00 431 670 839 946 1029 1101

2000.00 442 686 859 968 1054 1128

2050.00 452 702 879 991 1079 1154

2100.00 463 718 899 1014 1104 1181

2150.00 473 734 919 1037 1129 1207

2200.00 484 751 940 1060 1154 1234

2250.00 494 767 960 1082 1179 1261

2300.00 505 783 980 1105 1204 1287

2350.00 515 799 1000 1128 1229 1314

2400.00 526 815 1020 1151 1254 1340

2450.00 536 831 1041 1174 1279 1367

2500.00 547 847 1061 1196 1304 1394

2550.00 557 864 1081 1219 1329 1420

2600.00 568 880 1101 1242 1354 1447

2650.00 578 896 1121 1265 1379 1473

2700.00 588 912 1141 1287 1403 1500

2750.00 597 927 1160 1308 1426 1524

2800.00 607 941 1178 1328 1448 1549

2850.00 616 956 1197 1349 1471 1573

2900.00 626 971 1215 1370 1494 1598

2950.00 635 986 1234 1391 1517 1622

3000.00 644 1001 1252 1412 1540 1647

3050.00 654 1016 1271 1433 1563 1671

3100.00 663 1031 1289 1453 1586 1695

3150.00 673 1045 1308 1474 1608 1720

3200.00 682 1060 1327 1495 1631 1744

3250.00 691 1075 1345 1516 1654 1769

3300.00 701 1090 1364 1537 1677 1793

3350.00 710 1105 1382 1558 1700 1818

3400.00 720 1120 1401 1579 1723 1842

3450.00 729 1135 1419 1599 1745 1867

3500.00 738 1149 1438 1620 1768 1891

3550.00 748 1164 1456 1641 1791 1915

3600.00 757 1179 1475 1662 1814 1940

3650.00 767 1194 1493 1683 1837 1964

3700.00 776 1208 1503 1702 1857 1987

3750.00 784 1221 1520 1721 1878 2009

3800.00 793 1234 1536 1740 1899 2031

3850.00 802 1248 1553 1759 1920 2053

3900.00 811 1261 1570 1778 1940 2075

3950.00 819 1275 1587 1797 1961 2097

4000.00 828 1288 1603 1816 1982 2119

4050.00 837 1302 1620 1835 2002 2141

4100.00 846 1315 1637 1854 2023 2163

4150.00 854 1329 1654 1873 2044 2185

4200.00 863 1342 1670 1892 2064 2207

4250.00 872 1355 1687 1911 2085 2229

4300.00 881 1369 1704 1930 2106 2251

4350.00 889 1382 1721 1949 2127 2273

4400.00 898 1396 1737 1968 2147 2295

4450.00 907 1409 1754 1987 2168 2317

4500.00 916 1423 1771 2006 2189 2339

4550.00 924 1436 1788 2024 2209 2361

4600.00 933 1450 1804 2043 2230 2384

4650.00 942 1463 1821 2062 2251 2406

4700.00 951 1477 1838 2081 2271 2428

4750.00 959 1490 1855 2100 2292 2450

4800.00 968 1503 1871 2119 2313 2472

4850.00 977 1517 1888 2138 2334 2494

4900.00 986 1530 1905 2157 2354 2516

4950.00 993 1542 1927 2174 2372 2535

5000.00 1000 1551 1939 2188 2387 2551

5050.00 1006 1561 1952 2202 2402 2567

5100.00 1013 1571 1964 2215 2417 2583

5150.00 1019 1580 1976 2229 2432 2599

5200.00 1025 1590 1988 2243 2447 2615

5250.00 1032 1599 2000 2256 2462 2631

5300.00 1038 1609 2012 2270 2477 2647

5350.00 1045 1619 2024 2283 2492 2663

5400.00 1051 1628 2037 2297 2507 2679

5450.00 1057 1638 2049 2311 2522 2695

5500.00 1064 1647 2061 2324 2537 2711

5550.00 1070 1657 2073 2338 2552 2727

5600.00 1077 1667 2085 2352 2567 2743

5650.00 1083 1676 2097 2365 2582 2759

5700.00 1089 1686 2109 2379 2597 2775

5750.00 1096 1695 2122 2393 2612 2791

5800.00 1102 1705 2134 2406 2627 2807

5850.00 1107 1713 2144 2418 2639 2820

5900.00 1111 1721 2155 2429 2651 2833

5950.00 1116 1729 2165 2440 2663 2847

6000.00 1121 1737 2175 2451 2676 2860

6050.00 1126 1746 2185 2462 2688 2874

6100.00 1131 1754 2196 2473 2700 2887

6150.00 1136 1762 2206 2484 2712 2900

6200.00 1141 1770 2216 2495 2724 2914

6250.00 1145 1778 2227 2506 2737 2927

6300.00 1150 1786 2237 2517 2749 2941

6350.00 1155 1795 2247 2529 2761 2954

6400.00 1160 1803 2258 2540 2773 2967

6450.00 1165 1811 2268 2551 2785 2981

6500.00 1170 1819 2278 2562 2798 2994

6550.00 1175 1827 2288 2573 2810 3008

6600.00 1179 1835 2299 2584 2822 3021

6650.00 1184 1843 2309 2595 2834 3034

6700.00 1189 1850 2317 2604 2845 3045

6750.00 1193 1856 2325 2613 2854 3055

6800.00 1196 1862 2332 2621 2863 3064

6850.00 1200 1868 2340 2630 2872 3074

6900.00 1204 1873 2347 2639 2882 3084

6950.00 1208 1879 2355 2647 2891 3094

7000.00 1212 1885 2362 2656 2900 3103

7050.00 1216 1891 2370 2664 2909 3113

7100.00 1220 1897 2378 2673 2919 3123

7150.00 1224 1903 2385 2681 2928 3133

7200.00 1228 1909 2393 2690 2937 3142

7250.00 1232 1915 2400 2698 2946 3152

7300.00 1235 1921 2408 2707 2956 3162

7350.00 1239 1927 2415 2716 2965 3172

7400.00 1243 1933 2423 2724 2974 3181

7450.00 1247 1939 2430 2733 2983 3191

7500.00 1251 1945 2438 2741 2993 3201

7550.00 1255 1951 2446 2750 3002 3211

7600.00 1259 1957 2453 2758 3011 3220

7650.00 1263 1963 2461 2767 3020 3230

7700.00 1267 1969 2468 2775 3030 3240

7750.00 1271 1975 2476 2784 3039 3250

7800.00 1274 1981 2483 2792 3048 3259

7850.00 1278 1987 2491 2801 3057 3269

7900.00 1282 1992 2498 2810 3067 3279

7950.00 1286 1998 2506 2818 3076 3289

8000.00 1290 2004 2513 2827 3085 3298

8050.00 1294 2010 2521 2835 3094 3308

8100.00 1298 2016 2529 2844 3104 3318

8150.00 1302 2022 2536 2852 3113 3328

8200.00 1306 2028 2544 2861 3122 3337

8250.00 1310 2034 2551 2869 3131 3347

8300.00 1313 2040 2559 2878 3141 3357

8350.00 1317 2046 2566 2887 3150 3367

8400.00 1321 2052 2574 2895 3159 3376

8450.00 1325 2058 2581 2904 3168 3386

8500.00 1329 2064 2589 2912 3178 3396

8550.00 1333 2070 2597 2921 3187 3406

8600.00 1337 2076 2604 2929 3196 3415

8650.00 1341 2082 2612 2938 3205 3425

8700.00 1345 2088 2619 2946 3215 3435

8750.00 1349 2094 2627 2955 3224 3445

8800.00 1352 2100 2634 2963 3233 3454

8850.00 1356 2106 2642 2972 3242 3464

8900.00 1360 2111 2649 2981 3252 3474

8950.00 1364 2117 2657 2989 3261 3484

9000.00 1368 2123 2664 2998 3270 3493

9050.00 1372 2129 2672 3006 3279 3503

9100.00 1376 2135 2680 3015 3289 3513

9150.00 1380 2141 2687 3023 3298 3523

9200.00 1384 2147 2695 3032 3307 3532

9250.00 1388 2153 2702 3040 3316 3542

9300.00 1391 2159 2710 3049 3326 3552

9350.00 1395 2165 2717 3058 3335 3562

9400.00 1399 2171 2725 3066 3344 3571

9450.00 1403 2177 2732 3075 3353 3581

9500.00 1407 2183 2740 3083 3363 3591

9550.00 1411 2189 2748 3092 3372 3601

9600.00 1415 2195 2755 3100 3381 3610

9650.00 1419 2201 2763 3109 3390 3620

9700.00 1422 2206 2767 3115 3396 3628

9750.00 1425 2210 2772 3121 3402 3634

9800.00 1427 2213 2776 3126 3408 3641

9850.00 1430 2217 2781 3132 3414 3647

9900.00 1432 2221 2786 3137 3420 3653

9950.00 1435 2225 2791 3143 3426 3659

10000.00 1437 2228 2795 3148 3432 3666

(a) If the obligor parent’s net income is less than the amount in the guidelines schedule:

1. The parent should be ordered to pay a child support amount, determined on a case-by-case basis, to establish the principle of payment and lay the basis for increased support orders should the parent’s income increase.

2. The obligor parent’s child support payment shall be the lesser of the obligor parent’s actual dollar share of the total minimum child support amount, as determined in subparagraph 1., and 90 percent of the difference between the obligor parent’s monthly net income and the current poverty guidelines as periodically updated in the Federal Register by the United States Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to 42 U.S.C. s. 9902(2) for a single individual living alone.

(b) For combined monthly net income greater than the amount in the guidelines schedule, the obligation is the minimum amount of support provided by the guidelines schedule plus the following percentages multiplied by the amount of income over $10,000:

Child or Children

One Two Three Four Five Six

5.0% 7.5% 9.5% 11.0% 12.0% 12.5%

(7) Child care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income of current employment of either parent shall be added to the basic obligation. After the child care costs are added, any moneys prepaid by a parent for child care costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children. Child care costs may not exceed the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source.

(8) Health insurance costs resulting from coverage ordered pursuant to s. 61.13(1)(b), and any noncovered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the child, shall be added to the basic obligation unless these expenses have been ordered to be separately paid on a percentage basis. After the health insurance costs are added to the basic obligation, any moneys prepaid by a parent for health-related costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children.

(9) Each parent’s percentage share of the child support need shall be determined by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the combined net monthly income.

(10) Each parent’s actual dollar share of the total minimum child support need shall be determined by multiplying the minimum child support need by each parent’s percentage share of the combined monthly net income.

(11)(a) The court may adjust the total minimum child support award, or either or both parents’ share of the total minimum child support award, based upon the following deviation factors:

1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.

2. Independent income of the child, not to include moneys received by a child from supplemental security income.

3. The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.

4. Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses.

5. The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.

6. Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines.

7. Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.

8. The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order a parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the paying parent is current in support payments.

9. An application of the child support guidelines schedule that requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order.

10. The particular parenting plan, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 20 percent of the overnights, with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent; or the refusal of a parent to become involved in the activities of the child.

11. Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt. Such expense or debt may include, but is not limited to, a reasonable and necessary expense or debt that the parties jointly incurred during the marriage.

(b) Whenever a particular parenting plan provides that each child spend a substantial amount of time with each parent, the court shall adjust any award of child support, as follows:

1. In accordance with subsections (9) and (10), calculate the amount of support obligation apportioned to each parent without including day care and health insurance costs in the calculation and multiply the amount by 1.5.

2. Calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child spends with each parent.

3. Multiply each parent’s support obligation as calculated in subparagraph 1. by the percentage of the other parent’s overnight stays with the child as calculated in subparagraph 2.

4. The difference between the amounts calculated in subparagraph 3. shall be the monetary transfer necessary between the parents for the care of the child, subject to an adjustment for day care and health insurance expenses.

5. Pursuant to subsections (7) and (8), calculate the net amounts owed by each parent for the expenses incurred for day care and health insurance coverage for the child.

6. Adjust the support obligation owed by each parent pursuant to subparagraph 4. by crediting or debiting the amount calculated in subparagraph 5. This amount represents the child support which must be exchanged between the parents.

7. The court may deviate from the child support amount calculated pursuant to subparagraph 6. based upon the deviation factors in paragraph (a), as well as the obligee parent’s low income and ability to maintain the basic necessities of the home for the child, the likelihood that either parent will actually exercise the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan granted by the court, and whether all of the children are exercising the same time-sharing schedule.

8. For purposes of adjusting any award of child support under this paragraph, “substantial amount of time” means that a parent exercises time-sharing at least 20 percent of the overnights of the year.

(c) A parent’s failure to regularly exercise the court-ordered or agreed time-sharing schedule not caused by the other parent which resulted in the adjustment of the amount of child support pursuant to subparagraph (a)10. or paragraph (b) shall be deemed a substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying the child support award. A modification pursuant to this paragraph is retroactive to the date the noncustodial parent first failed to regularly exercise the court-ordered or agreed time-sharing schedule.

(12)(a) A parent with a support obligation may have other children living with him or her who were born or adopted after the support obligation arose. If such subsequent children exist, the court, when considering an upward modification of an existing award, may disregard the income from secondary employment obtained in addition to the parent’s primary employment if the court determines that the employment was obtained primarily to support the subsequent children.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a), the existence of such subsequent children should not as a general rule be considered by the court as a basis for disregarding the amount provided in the guidelines schedule. The parent with a support obligation for subsequent children may raise the existence of such subsequent children as a justification for deviation from the guidelines schedule. However, if the existence of such subsequent children is raised, the income of the other parent of the subsequent children shall be considered by the court in determining whether or not there is a basis for deviation from the guideline amount.

(c) The issue of subsequent children under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) may only be raised in a proceeding for an upward modification of an existing award and may not be applied to justify a decrease in an existing award.

(13) If the recurring income is not sufficient to meet the needs of the child, the court may order child support to be paid from nonrecurring income or assets.

(14) Every petition for child support or for modification of child support shall be accompanied by an affidavit which shows the party’s income, allowable deductions, and net income computed in accordance with this section. The affidavit shall be served at the same time that the petition is served. The respondent, whether or not a stipulation is entered, shall make an affidavit which shows the party’s income, allowable deductions, and net income computed in accordance with this section. The respondent shall include his or her affidavit with the answer to the petition or as soon thereafter as is practicable, but in any case at least 72 hours prior to any hearing on the finances of either party.

(15) For purposes of establishing an obligation for support in accordance with this section, if a person who is receiving public assistance is found to be noncooperative as defined in s. 409.2572, the department may submit to the court an affidavit or written declaration signed under penalty of perjury as specified in s. 92.525(2) attesting to the income of that parent based upon information available to the department.

(16) The Legislature shall review the guidelines schedule established in this section at least every 4 years beginning in 1997.

(17) In an initial determination of child support, whether in a paternity action, dissolution of marriage action, 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, regardless of whether that date precedes the filing of the petition. In determining the retroactive award in such cases, the court shall consider the following:

(a) The court shall apply the guidelines schedule in effect at the time of the hearing subject to the obligor’s demonstration of his or her actual income, as defined by subsection (2), during the retroactive period. Failure of the obligor to so demonstrate shall result in the court using the obligor’s income at the time of the hearing in computing child support for the retroactive period.

(b) All actual payments made by a parent to the other parent or the child or third parties for the benefit of the child throughout the proposed retroactive period.

(c) The court should consider an installment payment plan for the payment of retroactive child support.

If you find yourself in a conflict over what your obligations are concerning child support, you owe it to yourself to obtain advice from a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney before making a major decision that could have a lifelong impact on the lives of you and your loved ones. Dan Newlin & Partners are exactly those types of attorneys. Call now for free advice on family law, and other legal issues. The call is free, but the advice could be priceless. Call Dan Newlin & Partners now at (407) 888-8000.