Florida Child Support Guidelines
Many parents ask how is child support calculated in Florida. Florida law provides that both parents help with child support. This is sometimes referred to as the “shared income model.” The court will look at the salary of each parent, combine this total and use the Florida Statute to determine the amount each parent is responsible for.
Step 1: Complete Financial Affidavit
Of course, the court needs to look at the income of each parent to calculate the above amount. Almost always, both parties must complete a financial affidavit where the parents disclose all of their assets and liabilities. These blank forms can be found on the Florida Courts Web site, here.
Step Two: Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
Once the financial affidavits are complete, filed, and exchanged with the other party, you need to determine the amount of actual child support to be paid. Florida statute provides a worksheet that can be used for this purpose. Also, you can use one of the many calculators that are found around the web:
Alllaw.com has one here.
Other Expenses are Divided
The following expenses also have to be divided between the parties:
- Educational costs
- Health care premiums and deductibles.
- Child Care
- Extracurricular expenses.
Note that the parties can negotiate how these expenses will be divided.
Tax and Child Support
There is no tax deduction available for child support in Florida. For more on this topic check out the IRS webpages found here.
Modification of Child Support
Child support can be changed only if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For example, a parent who becomes unable to work for some reason may be able to prove that the amount of child support should be lower.
Alimony and Child Support
Unlike child support, the court has more discretion in awarding alimony. Some argue that they feel like they are paying their former spouse two times, but alimony or spousal support is for the maintenance of the former partner whereas child support is for the support of the minor children. For more on permanent alimony see this post.
Unemployed Parents-a case study
Under Florida law, a court can impute or assign an income to a parent if they find that the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. For example, if the father is an out salesman with twenty years of experience. If the court determines that he is not working voluntarily, they can assign him a salary based on this experience and determine that he owes this much in child support as if he was working. The court looks at the Census information to determine how much a person similarly situated would be making for this type of employment.
Recent Florida Case: Wilkins v Wilkins Fla App. 20201 (link coming soon)
In this case, the trial court imputed onto the wife a minimum wage salary when it was calculating child support and ordered her to pay that amount to the father. However, on appeal, the court reversed this decision because it found that the lower court did not explain why it was appropriate to impute income to the wife when the couple had agreed that she should stay home to care for the children and attend college. This case shows us that the court is willing to order a party to pay child support if they feel a party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In this case, the trial court got it wrong because even though the wife was voluntarily unemployed, it was by mutual agreement of the parties.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum child support in Florida
The minimum you pay will depend on the combined income of both parents and the number of children. For example, if the combined income of the parents is $ 2,500 and they have two children, the minimum amount of support would be $847. To find the minimum for your situation look at the Florida Child Support Worksheet (page 3) found on this form.
What is the average child support in Florida
There really isn’t average child support, only a minimum amount due based on income and the number of children.
I need a child support calulator Florida 2021
There are plenty of free online calculators you can use to help you determine child support.
Hire Lipinski Law to Help
Need help with child support? Contact attorney Joel Lipinski at 7272-643-8964 or him to set up a free consultation.