Florida, like all states, has its own unique way of calculating and assessing child support in a family court case involving children. In Florida, this child support calculation can be done in several ways. First, you can perform the calculation yourself, which is not recommended unless you have bookkeeping or accounting experience. Second, you can utilize a form that your local county court can provide to pro se (or self-represented) individuals. These forms are often confusing and can lead to real headaches if you make a mistake. Lastly, you can turn to an experienced Florida divorce attorney. With years of experience running the numbers, an attorney should be able to give you a fair estimate of what you will receive or have to pay in child support.
Florida Statutes section 61.30
The Florida Child Support Guidelines provide a starting point for understanding your possible child support amounts. First, you must decide the following:
- Who is the primary custodial parent of the child(ren)?
- What amount of time will each parent spends with the child(ren)?
- What is the number of payments needed?
- What is the gross and net revenue of both parents?
Why the Income of Both Parents is Used
Unlike the old system, where the non-custodial parent (regardless of income disparity) was required to pay a flat predetermined percentage of his or her income, the new laws in Florida consider all revenue from the parties, collectively, before taking deductions based on statute. Income can include any of the following:
- Earned wages
- Bonuses or commissions
- Business income of all types
- Disability income
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Unemployment compensation
- Pensions and retirement income
- Social Security benefits
- Alimony (a/k/a spousal support) from other marriages
- Investment income, such as dividends or interest
- Net income from rental properties
- Income from trusts
This is not an exhaustive list, so if you believe you may have other sources of income not mentioned here, you should definitely seek legal assistance right away. Failure to disclose assets or income can carry harsh consequences in family law court.
What can be Deducted From Income for Florida Child Support?
If you have income and wish to reduce your possible liability to the other parent, the best and most likely way to do it is through upfront deductions. These are:
- Childcare expenses, including daycare
- Health insurance premiums
- Income tax deductions
- Spousal or child support to other children or past spouses
- Union dues
- Federal insurance costs
- Fixed retirement expenses
The total number of children that a person is paying for can be considered, including children from outside the relationship.
What About Unemployed People?
One of the most common questions divorce attorneys get from clients is: “What if he/she stops working?” or “What if I just stop working?” Well, sad to say, even if you are not working, this does not automatically give you a pass. In family law courts in Florida, judges can impute income to a party, depending largely on past indications of the ability to earn a suitable living. Likewise, the court can determine that there is some amount that the individual should be able to cover, even if minimally employed.
Child support is perhaps one of the most contentious areas of family law. When a couple has kids together, but then dissolves their relationship, emotions are already high. Add to this one party being forced to pay the other, and it can be a tense and unpleasant situation. You can count on The Law Offices of Matthew J. Jowanna, P.A. to be there when you need a guiding hand. Call or visit us online for more information or to set up a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.