According to a 2017 Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support report produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately half (49.4 percent) of all custodial parents had either legal or informal child support agreements in place. During a divorce or legal separation, child support arrangements are typically established by the spouses to ensure that their children are adequately cared for. Even though most parents are keen to contribute a reasonable amount of financial support, many parents are equally concerned about the crippling effect that exorbitant child support payments can have on their finances.
If you or someone you know is trying to establish a child support arrangement or modify an existing child support arrangement, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Florida family law attorney. At Fournier Law, our attorneys are committed to providing experienced legal counsel and compassionate representation for individuals and families dealing with child support cases. Whether you need to establish a support arrangement or modify an existing child support arrangement, our attorneys will offer you the knowledgeable guidance and advocacy you need. Our team will fight passionately to protect the rights of both you and your child as we seek an amicable conclusion for everyone involved.
Fournier Law is also proud to serve clients across Tallahassee, Florida, Big Bend, and the surrounding counties.
Understanding Child Support Laws in Florida
Child support payments are meant to support the general well-being of the child and cater to their needs, including food, education, clothing, shelter, and other necessities. In Florida, both parents, whether married or not, are obligated to support their children financially.
How to Determine the Amount
Florida’s Child Support Guidelines are used to calculate child support payments (Florida Statutes, Title VI, Chapter 61.30). The steps that these guidelines outline are as follows:
- Determine Gross Income - In a contested divorce (where child support is an issue), both parents will need to file and exchange financial affidavits verifying individual income and expenses. Gross income consists of any earned and unearned income, including wages, self-employment income, bonuses, commissions, alimony, dividend or interest income, rent, workers' compensation benefits, retirement benefits, and pensions. All of these factors will be used to determine both parents' gross income levels.
- Calculate Imputed Income - Florida courts may impute the income of a parent who is underemployed or voluntarily unemployed.
- Determine the Net Income - Upon calculating both parents' gross income (or imputed gross income), statutorily approved deductions will result in a net income for each parent. Allowable deductions include health insurance premiums, federal, state, and local income tax deductions, Medicare payments, compulsory retirement payments, alimony payments, and court-ordered child support payments for children from previous relationships.
- Calculating Child Support Payments - The child support payments will be based on the number of children and the combined net incomes of the parents (gross income minus allowable deductions) and child support will then be determined using the Child Support Guidelines.