How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?
All parents have a legal responsibility to support their children financially, which is why child support is almost always part of a divorce and child custody settlement. The courts assume that the custodial parent is fulfilling their duty to provide for their child financially by being the primary caretaker, and therefore will likely order the other parent to make recurring child support payments as such.
If you are a parent who is unmarried to/not residing with your child’s other parent, understanding how child support is calculated in Florida is a must. Here’s a look into what you need to know:
Florida Child Support and the Income Shares Model
The state of Florida uses an income shares model to determine amount. This model attempts to determine how much financial support a child would have received based on parent income had they remained together, and then assigns each parent a percentage of that amount. This method is reinforced by the state’s Child Support Guidelines.
The guidelines consider the combined monthly available income of parents, and then determine how much of that income should go to a child. For example, the guidelines suggest that parents who make a combined $8,000 per month and have one child should allocate $1,290 per month to that child. For two children, this amount is increased to $2,004 for both children, and for three children, the amount is increased to $2,513.
After the base amount that a child is entitled to is determined, the division is based on each parent’s income. For example, parents make $8,000 per month combined, but one party contributes $5,000 (62.5 percent), and the other parent contributes $3,000 (37.5 percent). If the parent contributing 37.5 percent is the custodial parent, the other parent would be responsible for contributing 62.5 percent of the child support amount, or 62.5 percent multiplied by $1,290, or $806.25.
Other Factors that Influence Child Support
The courts recognize that while the guidelines are a great baseline for determining how much a parent should pay in child support, and how much a child should receive based on parents’ income, all children’s needs and all financial situations are not the same. Indeed, the court may deviate from the guidelines based on things like:
- The child’s healthcare costs;
- Childcare costs;
- The needs of the child(ren), including any special needs;
- Standard of living; and
- The financial status and ability of each parent.
These guidelines and factors upon which the court may deviate from guidelines are found in Florida Statutes 61.30.
What If My Income Is Too Low to Pay Child Support?
All parents want to support their children and provide for their children’s best interests. However, doing so may be very challenging if a parent’s income is especially low, or there are other circumstances that prevent a parent from contributing to a child’s financial wellbeing.
Keep in mind that a child support payment is proportional to a party’s income. If you only make $1,000 per month, but the combined income of both parties is $10,000, your child support obligation is proportion to your income – you will be liable for 10 percent of the total child support obligation in this case. In cases where combined income is very low, the amount of child support a parent owes is also very low. If couples make a combined income of less than $800 per month, there is no child support obligation, as outlined in Child Support Guidelines.
If your income amount changes after a child support order has been made, you can petition the court for a modification. Modifications are granted when circumstances warrant the change (i.e you’ve lost your job or accepted a new, lower-paying position).
Contact Our Florida Child Support Attorneys Today
Understanding how much you may receive or be ordered to pay in child support can be complicated. At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A., our experienced child support attorneys can help you to understand support obligations, as well as how to modify and enforce support orders. For a free consultation, please call us today at 1-888-219-4561, or send us an email using the contact form on our website today.