Florida Child Support Guidelines 2015
The basis for Child Support in Florida is Florida Statute 61.30. Section 61.30 contains the “Child Support Guidelines”, which is essentially a formula for determining child support.
A common misconception about child support is that support is based on how much a parent has “in the bank”. In Florida, a parent’s assets generally have no impact on child support. Instead, with few exceptions, child support is based on the net incomes of both parents.
The Florida Child Support Guidelines essentially base child support on four factors: (1) the number of children; (2) the income of both parents; (3) the number of overnights each parent has with their children in a year; (4) and the amount of qualified expenses that each parent pays directly for their children.
Once these factors are determined (see below), child support can be determined by using the Child Support Calculator on the website of the child support attorneys of Nugent, Zborowski & Bruce.
The income attributable to each party for purposes of calculating child support is a net income figure that is comprised of gross income less allowable deductions.
A. Gross Income
“Gross Income” is comprised of:
1. Salary or wages.
2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
3. Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
4. Disability benefits.
5. All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements.
6. Unemployment compensation.
7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
8. Social security benefits.
9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
10. Interest and dividends.
11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
12. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
Furthermore, monthly income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if such unemployment or underemployment is found by the court to be voluntary on that parent’s part, absent a finding of fact by the court of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control. In the event of such voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the employment potential and probable earnings level of the parent shall be determined based upon his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community if such information is available. If the information concerning a parent’s income is unavailable, a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or a parent fails to supply adequate financial information in a child support proceeding, income shall be automatically imputed to the parent and there is a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income 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. However, the court may refuse to impute income to a parent if the court finds it necessary for that parent to stay home with the child who is the subject of a child support calculation
B. Allowable Deductions from Gross Income
Allowable deductions from gross income include:
(a) Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
(b) Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
(c) Mandatory union dues.
(d) Mandatory retirement payments.
(e) Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
(f) Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
(g) Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.
C. Qualified Expenses
As stated above, the child support calculation is also affected when one parent pays certain qualified expenses for a child. In effect, the payment of qualified expenses will lower the child support to be paid of the parent who pays support pays the expenses or will increase the amount of support received if the party receiving child support is paying the expenses.
The qualified expenses are set forth in Florida Statute 61.30 (7) and (8), and essentially include payments for child care, the children’s health insurance and any other expenses that are necessary to allow a parent to work to earn child support.
MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT
Florida Law provides that child support is to be recalculated in certain situations, mostly when there is a permanent and substantial change in a parent’s income that was not caused by a parent’s voluntary refusal to work or otherwise reduce their income. Florida Statute Section 61.30(1)(b) provides that child support can be increased/decreased if the parties’ new combined income would result in child support changing by more than 15% or $50 per month.