Child support is determined by the child support guidelines which presumptively establishes the amount the court should order as child support. Child support may vary, plus or minus 5% from the guideline amount, after considering all relevant factors including, the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living and the financial status and ability of each parent. The court may order a child support amount which varies more than 5% from the guideline amount, only upon a written finding explaining why ordering the payment of the guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate. The court may order the payment of child support which varies from the guideline amount whenever any of the children are required by court order or by agreement of the parties to spend a substantial amount of time with either parent. This applies to any living arrangement, whether temporary or permanent.
The amount varies based upon the combined monthly net income of the parties, the number of children, whether health insurance is provided for the children and whether childcare cost due to employment, job search or education is provided for the children. Each parents’ percentage share of the child support is determined by dividing each parents’ net monthly income by the combined net monthly income of the parties. The court may adjust the total minimum child support award or either or both parties’ share of the total minimum child support award based on deviation factors, including extraordinary medical, psychological, educational or dental expenses, special needs associated with the disability of a child, impact of the internal revenue service child and dependent care tax earned income tax credit and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption on the particular parenting plan where the child spends a significant time with one parent which thereby reduces the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent, or the refusal of a parent to become involved the activities of the child.
Each parent’s income is determined on a monthly basis which includes, but is not limited to salary or wages, bonuses, commissions, overtime, disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment compensation and other forms of income.
The child support guidelines allow for deductions for federal, state and local income tax, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement payments, health insurance payments and court ordered support for other children which is actually paid and spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage.
It is the public policy of the State of Florida that both parents must contribute to the support of their children. Therefore, if one parent is unemployed, or underemployed, the court may impute income to that parent if the court determines the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary on the parents’ part. The court must make specific findings of fact to support the imputation of income, such as the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary, and identifying the amount and source of the imputed income.
The court may award child support retroactive to when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child, not to exceed a period of twenty-four (24) months before the filing of the petition to initially determine child support.
The court may also modify child support upwards based upon a parents’ failure to regularly exercise the court ordered or agreed timesharing schedule, not caused by the other parent, which resulted in the adjustment in the amount of support. A modification pursuant to this provision is retroactive to the date the non-custodial parent first failed to regularly exercise the court ordered or agreed timesharing schedule.
The Dorsey Firm has been representing clients in child support cases for over thirty five (35) years and is committed to providing competent and aggressive representation for our clients.
For more information call our office at (904) 346-3883 or Contact Us for an appointment to learn your rights.