Child Support


Orlando Child Support Lawyer

Purpose of Child Support

Child Support is meant to assist a parent with covering expenses that would be typical for raising their own family such as rent or mortgage, car payments, utilities, and food among other things.  When calculating child support in Florida, there are very strict laws and statutory guidelines that determine the correct amount.   It’s important to note that the Florida child support calculation does not examine the actual costs of support.  There is no analysis of the expenses that need to be paid.  Instead, child support is calculated based on the parties’ respective net incomes, less certain deductions and then adjusted by certain variables.

Calculating Child Support in Florida

Child Support is Mandatory

Under Florida law, if there is a minor child or children involved in a divorce case or a paternity case, then the final judgment must contain a section regarding payment of child support and health insurance for the child.   Child support belongs to the child.  The parents may not waive child support and they may not agree to an amount less than the guidelines.  They can always agree to an amount more than the guidelines.

How to Calculate Child Support

Three of the most important components of child support are the number of children, each parent’s monthly income and how many overnights the child spends with each parent.  The calculation typically starts with the net monthly income of each parent.  Net income is a parent’s monthly gross income, less certain allowed deductions.  Hourly employees are easy to calculate, but it can be more difficult for self-employed individuals and business owners to calculate their income.  Once gross income is calculated, the only deductions allowed from gross income are all payroll withholding taxes, union dues, alimony paid pursuant to a court order, child support paid pursuant to a court order and the cost of the parent’s health insurance.  That’s it.  The amount remaining after the allowed deductions is net income.

The number of overnights the child spends with each parent also has to be calculated.  Florida uses a sliding scale that adjusts child support if the child stays with the paying parent at least 20% of the overnights per year.  The actual number is 73 or more overnights per year.  As the number of overnights increases over 73 child support decrease accordingly.  As the timesharing approaches a 50/50 split (182/183 overnights), child support decreases significantly and in some cases can disappear altogether if there is a 50/50 timesharing plan.

Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines

The net income of the parties, the number of children and the number of overnights for each parent are entered into the equation and produce a number that equals the amount of child support due each month.  Either party may file a motion to deviate from the guidelines amount, if necessary.  The statute only allows a deviation of between 5% and 10% of the guidelines amount, if certain factors are shown.

Daycare and Uncovered Medical Expenses May Be Included

In addition to child support payments, the court may also order that the parties include daycare costs for the children and medical and dental expenses that are not paid for by insurance.   Daycare is included only if it is necessary for the parent to work.  These expenses are typically paid at the same percentage as their respective net incomes.  For example, if the mother makes $5,000 per month and the husband makes $2,500 per month, then the mother would pay 5,000/7,500, or 67% and the father would pay 2,500/7,500, or 33% of the amounts due for daycare and uncovered medical expenses.   One advantage of including these amounts in the child support calculation is that they would be paid pursuant to an income withholding order, discussed below.

Income Withholding Order

Florida law requires that the court must enter an income withholding order to pay child support.   The income withholding order requires the parent’s employer to withhold all amounts due from the parent’s paycheck.  So the order is served on the paying parent’s employer, who withholds the amount due from their paycheck.  The money is sent to the Department of Revenue, which disperses it to the other parent.

Modifying and Enforcing a Child Support Order

In some cases, a child support order can be modified.   An order may only be modified, however, when there has been a significant and unanticipated change in circumstances that warrants such a change. If one parent suffers a disability or loses their job, and this results in them being unable to provide the original level of support ordered by court order then it may be necessary to fila petition to modify child support.

If the paying party refuses to pay the amount due, the Department or the receiving party may file a motion for contempt and enforcement.

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Outline of Child Support Calculation 

  • Calculate the Net Income of the Parties 
  • Add the Number of Children 
  • Count the Number of Overnights with Each Parent 
  • The Court May Deviate from the Child Support Guidelines by 5-10% 
  • Daycare Costs and Uncovered Medical Expenses May Be Included 
  • Payment Will Be Made by Income Withholding Order

Consult with an Experienced Orlando Child Support Lawyer

If you have questions about your child support case, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.  We have the experience you need to make sure your family is taken care of.

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