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How is the Amount of Child Support Determined?

The laws and guidelines when it comes to how child support payments are determined vary from state to state. In the state of Florida, the process is straightforward but encompasses a lot of steps. Many of the over 6 million custodial parents who receive child support in the U.S. are in Florida and if you live in the state and are wondering about how child support amounts are determined, we discuss the various steps below.

Financial Affidavits Pertaining to Child Support

Before support can be determined, the court must establish exactly how much income each parent receives. Both will be required to fill out a financial affidavit stating how much they make and what the sources of that income are. Those affidavits will be filed with the court and each sent to the other party.

child support

A 2012 Florida statute (61.30) lays out the steps for determining child support, beginning with adding up each parent’s gross income. According to the statute:

(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, closed 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. Reemployment assistance or 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.

Once gross income is established, expenses are subtracted to get to the net income number; the number that will be used to determine child support payments. The expenses that can be deducted are as follows:

  1. Federal, state, and local taxes
  2. Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax
  3. Mandatory union dues
  4. Mandatory retirement payments
  5. Health insurance payments (except those that go toward coverage for the child or children)
  6. Court-ordered child support for other children
  7. Spousal support that is paid because of a previous marriage or that has been ordered as part of the present divorce proceeding.

Child Support Guidelines Worksheet

Once the combined net income of both parents is determined, the court will look to the child support guidelines table found at the statute link above. For example, if Jack and Diane have a combined net income of $4,000, with Diane making $2,500 of that total, and they have 3 children, support will be worked out as follows:

According to the guidelines, $4,000 in net income and 3 kids means $1,603 of support. Since Diane makes 62.5% of the net income, she is responsible for 62.5% of the support, which comes out to $1,001.88. That means Jack is responsible for 601.12. This means Diane would pay Jack $400.76 a month in support to even things out.

Other expenses would be divided in the same way, with Diane paying 62.5%.

If you have questions about child support in Florida, contact the family law attorneys at the Estevez-Pazos Law Firm or call 305-717-7130 for a consultation.

Additional Reading:

Are Parenting Classes Necessary During a Divorce in Florida?

Moving, Divorce, and Kids

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