Child support is an important issue in many family law cases, especially where one parent is voluntarily unemployed, voluntarily underemployed, or is dishonest about their true income.
Every parent in Florida has a legal and moral obligation to provide financially for his or her children.
Child support calculations are governed by the Florida Child Support Guidelines set forth in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes, which sets forth a schedule of pre-determined monthly support obligation based on the net income of the parents, the number of minor children, and certain credits and adjustments for certain childcare expenses (such as daycare and health insurance).
While at first glance, child support may appear to be straightforward, many mistakes are often made by attorneys in preparing financial affidavits, knowing what constitutes "income" and how to calculate income. It is not always as simple as it may seem. Experience counts.
Florida’s child support guidelines take into account all relevant income, including:
- Salary or wages
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, etc.
- Business income from self-employment, partnership, closely-held corporations, and independent contracts.
- Disability benefits
- Workers’ compensation benefits and settlements
- Unemployment compensation.
- Pension, retirement, and annuity payments.
- Social security benefits.
- Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in a pending divorce.
- Interest and dividends
- Rental income
- Income from royalties, trusts, and estates.
- Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
- Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
Disputes over claims of unemployment, underemployment, and inability to work are typically resolved through the litigation process.
Deviating from Child Support Guidelines
As a general rule, Florida courts cannot deviate more than 5% from the guideline schedule. Depending on the facts of a particular case, however, the statute allows for an upward or downward departure in the discretion of the Court. Circumstances justifying a departure from the guidelines include:
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses
- Independent income of the child, not including SSI
- Support for a spouse’s parent that has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
- Seasonal variations in incomes or expenses.
- The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
- Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child
- The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption
- The particular parenting plan, 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.
- Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, payment of a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt.
If you have a legal issue involving child support, either receiving it or paying it, our Tampa family law attorneys can find a strategy to effectively advocate for you in Court. Contact us today at (813) 331-5699 to speak with one of our experienced lawyers.
What We've Achieved
- Imputed income to non-working spouses.
- Imputed income for child support purposes to dishonorably discharged military service member.
- Modified custody and child support for military servicemember in the special forces who left active duty to spend more time as a father.
- Brought and defended claims for retroactive child support based on a parent's failure to exercise time-sharing.
- Petitioned for rehearing where the court improperly calculated child support.
- Petitioned to set aside improper child support award.
- Petitioned to set aside marital settlement agreement where father agreed under duress to overpay child support.
- Moved to set aside final judgment where mother misrepresented her income to avoid paying child support to father.