Child Support Calculation in Florida: How to Calculate Child Support?
So you’re thinking about separating from your significant other (spouse or another parent of your children) and need to know how much child support you can expect to pay or receive. This article provides a basic understanding of how child support is calculated in Florida.
All court-ordered obligations in Florida are governed by Section 61.30 of the Florida Statutes. The courts require that child support be calculated in conformity with the statute in order for the Court to order the payment of child support to one parent from the other.
The statutory guidelines contained in F.S. 61.30 require the consideration of four broad factors in order to determine the amount one parent pays to the other the support of the parties’ children. Those factors consist of 1) The combined net monthly income of the parents, 2) the time each parent spends with the child, 3) the cost of the children’s health insurance premium, and 4)the cost of the children’s daycare.
Parents’ Net Monthly Income
Monthly income is covered under sub-section (2) of section 61.30 of the Florida statutes and specifies 14 areas of income to be included in gross monthly income. These areas of income include almost every source of income that could come to mind, including wages, overtime, bonuses, disability benefits, workers’ compensation, social security, trust income, and alimony received in the current marriage or in a previous marriage. With few exceptions, nearly every source of a parent’s income (whether taxable as defined by the IRS or non-taxable) will be considered in determining his or her gross income.
But you are permitted deductions from gross income to come up with net monthly income which is used to calculate child support. These permissible deductions are defined in Section 61.30(3) of the statutes which to name a few, include income tax, mandatory union dues (not all union dues are mandatory, especially in Florida) health insurance cost (other than for the children), alimony payments that are actually paid, child support actually paid per previous court orders for a current child or from children from a previous relationship, and mandatory pension contributions (which are typical for government employees). It is important to remember that monthly contributions to an IRA or 401(k) are not deductible as those contributions are optional and NOT mandatory.
Application of the Child Support Guidelines
Once the net monthly income is determined for each parent, the total net monthly income for both parents is applied to the guidelines schedule in Section 61.30 (6) of the statute. These guidelines which were established by the Florida Legislature assume what a child’s needs are for support with the assumption that a child’s needs are commensurate with the parents’ income: the greater the household income, the greater the child’s need for support.
By way of example: Assuming there is one child and the monthly net income for the mother is $3,500 and net monthly income for the father is $2,750, resulting in a total net monthly income of $6,250. The Mother’s net income monthly income is 56% of the total (3500/6250) and the Father’s net monthly income is 44% of the total (2750/6250).
The chart in 61.30(6) provided that the basic needs of one child with parents with a combined monthly income of $6250 are $1145 per month. The Mother’s share is $641.20 (56% of 1145) and the Father’s share is $503.80 (44% of 1145.
But keep reading. We’re not done yet.
A parent that exercises “substantial timesharing” with a child gets a reduction in his/her child support obligation through the application of what is commonly called the “gross up method”. Substantial timeshare is defined as at least 20% of the overnights (at least 73 overnights per year). The more overnights a parent spends with the child the less child support he/she has to pay for the basic needs of a child.
In the example above, if the parties’ timesharing arrangement provides that the children spend less than 73 overnights with the Mother, her child support obligation would be approximately $641 per month. If she had 130 overnights per year (alternating 3 night weekend and one overnight per week) her child support obligation would be approximately $338 per month and if they had an equal number of overnights with the child her child support obligation for the basic needs of the child would be approximately $91 per month (due to her income being higher than the Husband.
Health Insurance Cost
The cost of the child’s health insurance cost is paid by the parents in proportion to their net monthly income. This cost is not limited to just the cost of the health insurance premium, but also the cost of vision and dental insurance premiums. In our example, the mother’s share of the child’s health, dental and vision insurance premium would be 56% and the father’s 44% which would be added to her child support obligation.
Day Care Cost
Section 61.30 (7) addresses responsibility for the daycare of the child. The child’s daycare cost (also extended daycare) due to a parent’s employment, job search, or education (to enhance his/her income) is similarly paid by the parents proportionate to his/her net monthly income. However, the cost of daycare must be reasonable and may not exceed the amount required to provide quality care from a licensed facility.
There are numerous other factors that may be called into play in determining how much child support a parent should pay. These include such things as extraordinary medical or educational needs of the child, independent income of the child, and the age of the child taking into consideration the increased needs of older children. Also, there are “economies of scale” for families with more than one child that are built into the child support guideline so that the child support due for two children will NOT be twice the amount of child support due for one child.
These additional factors are taken into consideration when appropriate.
There are numerous child support calculation calculators that aid in computing a parent’s child support in given situations. In order to calculate child support correctly, it is important to correctly input the correct information in order to obtain a correct child support calculation. Experience in calculation child support is imperative in coming up with the correct amount.