Child Support

Child support is not intended to support the parent, it is meant to compensate a parent for cost they incur supporting their children.  In Florida divorces, both parents have a duty to financially support their children and the court may order either or both parents to pay the other child support or, in some cases, pay support to a third party such as a grandparent who is caring for the child.  Although in most cases determining a parent’s child support obligation in a Florida divorce is based on a standard statutory formula that takes factors such as gross income of the parties, allowable deductions and contributions to child care costs and health insurance expenditures, it is important to have a full and complete understanding of these factors before you make a child support calculation.  At Matthew C. Bothwell, P.A., a Florida family law firm focused on assisting parents through divorce, we are here to help you obtain all the information necessary to protect your rights and those of your children when determining a child support obligation. 

A parent’s child support obligation is originally calculated based on statutory guidelines.  Here is a brief summary of how child support is calculated: 

  1. The gross income of each parent is determined by adding income received from wages, bonuses, disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits or settlements, unemployment compensation, pension payments, social security benefits and prior awards of child support and various other forms on income.
  2. Allowable deductions such as tax deductions, union dues, mandatory retirement payments and prior child support obligations, among others, are then subtracted from each parents gross income and to determine the net income.
  3. Both parents’ net incomes are added together to determine a combined net income which is then referenced on the child support guidelines schedule to determine the total support obligation of both parents.  This support obligation is based on the combined net incomes and the number of children at issue.
  4. Child care costs due to employment, job search or school are then added to the total support obligation of both parents.  After the child care costs are added, any moneys prepaid by a parent for child care costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children.
  5. The cost of health insurance resulting from a court order and any noncovered medical, dental and prescription medications of the child are added to the total support obligation unless the court has order the parents to pay these expenses on a percentage basis.
  6. Once the total support obligation is determined, each parent’s monetary share of the total child support obligation is calculated by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by the combined net monthly income to find the percentage share of each parent.
  7. Each parent’s percentage share is then multiplied by the total support obligation resulting in each parent’s actual dollar amount share of the total support obligation.
  8. Set-offs for prepaid child care and insurance obligations of each parent are then subtracted from each parent’s dollar amount share to reach the parent’s final child support obligation.

Although the above statutory formula is used to determine the initial child support obligation of each parent, the court may adjust the total minimum child support award of either or both parents under certain circumstances.  The circumstances include, but may not be limited to: 

  • Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses;
  • Independent income of the child;
  • Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses;
  • The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children;
  • Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines;
  • Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child;
  • An application of the child support guidelines schedule that requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order;
  • The particular parenting plan, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 20 percent of the overnights, with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent; or the refusal of a parent to become involved in the activities of the child; or
  • Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result.

It is also important to know that a child support obligation can be changed from the guideline amount when the parenting plan calls for, or actual practice has resulted in, the child or children spending at least 20% of the overnights a year with each parent (73 overnights per year).

At Matthew C. Bothwell, P.A. we are here to help guide you through the complex divorce process and help you deal the stress and uncertainty that is involved with almost any divorce.  We are here to fight for you and act as your voice in these trying times.  If you have any questions concerning divorce or any other family law matter please contact Matthew C. Bothwell, P.A