How Florida Courts Determine Child Support
Florida family law recognizes that it is in the best interests of your children to have both parents meet their financial as well as emotional needs. Courts determine child support based on two factors:
How much money you and the other parent makes
How many children require support
Whether or not both parents are exercising more than 20% in overnight
However, there are other elements that may be taken into consideration when ordering child support, such as health insurance costs, non-covered medical expenses, dental care, and child care.
Income Shares Model
The income shares model determines the base amount of child support. The court estimates how much money you and the other parent would have spent on the children’s needs if the family had remained intact and divides the amount between you based on income. When you and your ex separate or divorce, both of you have to complete financial affidavits that detail your income from all sources and allowable expenses, which are deducted to determine your monthly net income. Examples of the latter include:
Local, state, and federal taxes
Health insurance premiums
Court-ordered child support (if either of you has other children)
Once the court calculates each parent’s net income, they add both incomes together and consult the Florida child support guidelines to decide how much each person should pay based on income (after allowable expenses) and the number of children requiring support.
For example, if your net income is $2,000, your ex’s is $1,600, and you have two children, the guidelines state that the child support obligation is $1,179 per month. The court would then assign a percentage of the obligation to each parent by taking your respective net incomes, dividing it by the combined amount, and multiplying the result by the support amount specified in the guidelines.
Your obligation: ($2,000 / $3,600) x $1,179 = $655
Your ex’s obligation: ($1,600 / $3,600) x $1,179 = $524
However, if both you and your spouse are exercising more than 20% overnights, then the amount of support needed for the children will increase by 50%. Looking at the same example above, if your net income is $2,000, your ex’s is $1,600, and you have two children, the guidelines would not be $1,179 anymore. The combined total would be $1,768.50 to be shared by both parents.
You and your ex have the option of coming to an agreement regarding expenses like medical and dental care. For example, if your job has an excellent health plan while the other parent has access to childcare at their workplace, you can agree to be responsible for healthcare expenses while your ex covers daycare costs. You will have to notify the court about this private arrangement first, and receive approval, but most judges are happy to accommodate this type of mutually beneficial agreement.
Modifying Child Support in Florida
You may apply for a child support modification if you can demonstrate a substantial and ongoing change in your financial circumstances. Examples of such a change could include:
You lost your job
Your ex received a promotion and now makes more money
You are having more overnights with the children than specified in the original parenting plan
Florida law allows you to petition for a child support modification any time your changed circumstances would result in an income variation of 15% or $50, whichever is higher. An experienced Florida family law attorney can help you obtain a modification that is appropriate for your situation.
Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney
Child support issues can arise during a divorce, separation, or paternity action. If you want to establish, modify, or enforce a child support obligation in Florida, contact Jarbath Pena Law Group. We will help you ensure that your children receive the financial support they need according to an arrangement that you can afford.