How Does the Court Calculate Child Support?
Child Support is an extremely common topic in America, with over 33 Billion dollars in child support being paid every year. However, when entering a child custody or divorce case involving minor children, many people question how much child support, if any, they will have to pay, or are entitled to. Your Orlando Child Custody Attorney will be able to discuss with you the factors the court takes into account when determining child support as well as the statutory guidelines given by the state of Florida.
To begin, the court will look to the gross monthly income of each parent of the child. The income of each parent can come in the form of: “salary or wages; bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments; business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts; disability benefits; workers’ compensation benefits and settlements; reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation; pension, retirement, or annuity payments; social security benefits; spousal support; interest and dividends; rental income; income from royalties, trusts, or estates.” 61.30 You must report all your income, in any form, to the court. However, if you do not receive any form of income and are voluntarily unemployed the court may impute income to you in order to properly determine a child support award. Further, if a parent refuses to participate in the child support proceedings and does not provide financial information, income will be imputed to be the “equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census.” 61.30
After determining each parent’s individual gross income, the court will then calculate the individual’s net income. In order to calculate net income, you must subtract proper deductions, similar to any tax form. Such deductions may include: “federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities; federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax; mandatory union dues; mandatory retirement payments; health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child; court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid; and spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.” 61.30 Once net income is determined the court will add together each parent’s net monthly income. They will use this number in respect to the number of common children between the parties to determine the minimum child support need.
After determining the need, the court will calculate each parent’s proper share. This share is determined by “multiplying the minimum child support need by each parent’s percentage share of the combined monthly net income.” 61.30 Therefore, your payments are directly correlated to your income with respect to your spouse’s income. This allows for a proper share of the needs of the child, just as if you were sharing finances as a couple.
This format and guidelines are strictly followed, unless the court makes factual findings as to reason for deviation. Certain deviations occur due to extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses of the child. However, the most common reason for deviation is the time-sharing plan and how much time is spent with the child. When a plan designates more time spent with a specific parent, costs will change as this parent will naturally have more child expenses due to the excess time. In order to determine if there is a need for a deviation the court must first look at the parenting plan and calculate how many nights the child is spending with each parent. Then, the court will multiply each parent’s obligation by the percentage of overnights with the child. The difference between the two numbers will be the likely award deviation. More than 20% of overnights throughout the year is what the court considers to be substantial time warranting a deviation.
If you are entering a child support dispute, know the factors, guidelines, and process the court takes in each child support award. Further, have an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney on your side to fight for you and explain the process in more depth and ensure your rights are protected.
Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.