When Do Courts Deviate From the Statutory Guidelines for Child Support?
Although it is a common belief, that child support calculations in Florida are based specifically on a mathematical formula and statutory guidelines that must be strictly adhered to by the court, this idea may not be true in every case. Therefore, your Tallahassee Child Support Attorney will discuss with you the instances where a court may deviate from the statutory guidelines provided for in Florida state law.
In Florida, when calculating child support, there is typically a mathematical formula used by the court to discover the proper child support award. The court will begin by noting the number of common children between the parties, and the Non Majority Time Sharing Parent’s monthly net income in comparison with the Majority Time Sharing Parent’s monthly net income. The court will allow for proper deductions such as health insurance payments, taxes, etc. to discover the gross income of each parent. Most of this information will be provided through the parties’ respective financial affidavits. The court will then compare the incomes of the parents and allocate the percentage of child support to be paid by each parent.
However, after use of the Florida Child support guidelines the court may find it necessary to deviate from these guidelines in certain cases. Florida statute 61.30 provides courts with discretion to deviate from this calculation “plus or minus 5 percent, …after considering all relevant factors, including the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent.” However, with this deviation the court must provide “a written finding explaining why ordering payment of such guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate.” Further, the court may order a child support award over or under the 5% limitation if any of the extraordinary factors are present:
“1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
2. Independent income of the child, not to include moneys received by a child from supplemental security income.
3. The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
4. Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses.
5. The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
6. 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.
7. Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.
8. The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order a parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the paying parent is current in support payments.
9. 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.
10. The particular parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties, 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.
11. Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt. Such expense or debt may include, but is not limited to, a reasonable and necessary expense or debt that the parties jointly incurred during the marriage.”
Therefore, it is important to not simply rely on your own at home calculation of child support. Rather, trust and employ the aid of an experienced Tallahassee Child Support Attorney to discuss your matter and the number of options you have to argue your case and protect your rights.
Speaking to an attorney at our Tallahassee office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.