FloridaChild Support Laws
Florida Child Support Guide :: Table of Contents
Child support is an ongoing payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. Child support payments are often determined during the process of dissolution of a marriage through divorce, though the only requirements for requesting child support payments are establishment of paternity and maternity.
Child support is handled on a state level, and Florida has a set of specific child support guidelines. On this page you can learn about how child support is calculated in Florida, how custody split and extraordinary costs affect child support payments, and more.
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Florida uses the "income share" method for calculating child support payments, which is designed to ensure that both the custodial and non-custodial parents contribute to their child's upkeep.
In the event of parents sharing custody of a child, the Florida judge who sets child support may deviate from the basic child support formula to account for this. Other special situations accounted for under Florida's child support law include childcare costs and extraordinary medical costs. These costs may be additions to the basic Florida child support order.
What Deductions are Considered in Calculating Child Support?Once you determine the combined gross income, you subtract allowable deductions which include items such as:
- federal, state and local taxes
- mandatory union dues and retirement benefits
- health insurance premiums
The Court’s Ability to Deviate from Child Support GuidelinesThe amount of child support provided is presumed to be correct unless the court decides to deviate from the calculated amount.
If the court wants to deviate from the amount of support in the guidelines by an amount greater than 5%, the court can do so if it makes written findings explaining why calculating support according to guidelines would be unjust/inappropriate.
Modifying Existing Child Support ObligationsIn order to modify child support, Florida requires a parent to show evidence of a substantial change in circumstances.
The Statutory GuidelinesFlorida courts determine the amount of child support a parent owes based on mandatory schedules, or “guidelines” (Florida Statute § 61.30). The guidelines establish the minimum needs of the child with comparison and consideration to the parents’ level of income.
Child support is based on the idea that each parent is required to contribute to the wellbeing of their child.
Calculating Child Support Based on Net Monthly IncomeFlorida’s child support guidelines establish the minimum amount of support a parent is required to pay, based on the combined net income of both parents.
Child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents, or can be decided in Florida family court through a child support order. In Florida, a number of factors are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid in court. Here is an explanation of the two most common methods used to calculate basic child support amounts.
Income Share Method
Under the income share model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of the calculated cost that is based on their proportional share of both parents' combined income.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month, and the custodial parent has an income of $1,000 per month. The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.
Percentage Of Income Method
This method of calculating child support is simple - a set percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. The percentage paid may stay the same, or vary if the non-custodial parent's income changes.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month. The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $500 per month in child support. If the non-custodial parent's monthly income changes, the dollar amount they pay in child support will change as well.
Florida Child Support FAQ
- How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Florida?
- How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Florida?
- How are child care costs treated by child support in Florida?
- Does child support cover college education expenses in Florida?
- How is child support enforced in Florida?
- What are child support arrears?
- How are child support payments taxed in Florida?
How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Florida?
All states have a method of modifying the amount of child support owed in cases where the custody agreement provides for joint or shared custody of a child between both parents.
Florida law allows the judge overseeing the child support order to use a shared custody agreement as justification for a variation from the state's general child support calculations. This means that if the non-custodial parent shares parenting time with the custodial parent, the judge might reduce the amount of child support owed to account for the resources spent by the non-custodial parent during their time with the child.
How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Florida?
Florida has specialized guidelines for the sharing of a child's extraordinary medical care costs that are separate from, and in addition to, basic child support payments. Extraordinary medical costs are generally costs generated by things such as illness, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
Florida treats extraordinary medical care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
How are child care costs treated by child support in Florida?
Due to the high costs of child care for a single payment, Florida has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments.
Florida treats child care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
Does child support cover college education expenses in Florida?
While the state of Florida has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support, support for college expense by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, after which it is contractually enforceable.
How is child support enforced in Florida?
In the state of Florida, child support is enforced by the state child support agency. The state agency handles the location of non-custodial parents, enforcement of support orders, and the handling of unpaid child support arrears.
What are child support arrears?
Child support arrears are the amount of child support that is delinquent, or unpaid, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support arrears may be collected by the state through wage garnishment, bank levy. withholding of Florida welfare benefits, or other collection methods.
How are child support payments taxed in Florida?
Under IRS guidelines, the recepient of child support does not need to pay federal tax on child support payments, and the payer of child support cannot deduct their child support payments. This differs from the federal taxation of alimony payments, which are treated as taxable income by the receiver and are deductible by the payor. Florida tax law may vary on tax treatment of child support.