Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How is child support determined?

This is another question I get asked quite frequently. In Florida, child support is governed by Statute. The Statute contains a table of the child support amounts to be paid depending upon the parent’s income. The amount in the child support table is presumably the amount required to support a child in Florida. The incomes of parents are combined, the table is referred to for an amount for the combined income. For example, if one parent has $3000.00 per month of available income and the other parent has $1000.00 per month of available income, and there is one child, the court looks to the guidelines for $4000.00 and one child. At $4000.00 per month, the guideline child support amount is $828.00 per month. This is the presumptive amount to support the child. The $828.00 is divided by the amount of contribution of each parent. In this case, one parent contributes ¾ or 75 percent of the combined monthly available income. This parent would pay $621.00 per month in child support (828 x .75 = 621).

However, the Court has the authority to alter the guideline amount by plus or minus five percent after considering factors such as the needs of the child, age, station in life, standard of living and financial status and ability of the parents. As long as the court remains within the five percent, the Judge does not have to document reasons for the deviation. If the judge deviates by more than five percent from the guideline amount, the judge must make written findings to justify the deviation.

When calculating the income of the parents there are several allowable deductions which will decrease the income used to determine the child support basis. The court can also impute income to an under or unemployed parent in some circumstances. The child support guidelines range in combined monthly available income from $650.00 to $10,000.00 per month and from one to six children. For amounts below $650.00 per month, the court will determine child support on a case by case basis. For combined monthly available income above $10,000.00 per month, the court will use a percentage based mathematical formula to calculate the child support.

There you have it, the Florida Child Support determination.

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