Florida Child Support Calculator
Definition of Child Support in Florida
Child Support refers to the ongoing, periodic payment of an amount by one parent to another following the end of a relationship or marriage. It is provided to support the child with daily basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, etc. Child support is paid directly or indirectly from a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, of the child, for its care and support, due to termination of a relationship. The concept behind child support is to provide for the shortage of income, favoring the child’s financial benefit at its home, following the end of a marriage or other relationship.
Determining the Amount of Child Support in Florida
The estimated amount of child support provided by each parent per month can be calculated using their Gross Monthly Income. The percentage of total income contributed by the parents throws light onto the amount that they pay as child support. Several elements influence the amount of child support and the contribution provided by each parent per month.
Gross Income of a Parent
The Gross Monthly Income of each parent comprises of factors such as:
- Salary or wages (including tips, commissions, bonuses, profit sharing, deferred compensation, and severance pay)
- Interest and dividends earned.
- Business income arising from self-employment, partnerships, close corporations and independent contracts.
- Disability benefits, unemployment compensation and all workers’ compensation benefits, including unemployment insurance benefits, strike pay, etc.
- Pension or retirement, Veterans’ benefits and social security benefits.
- Alimony received from a person other than the other spouse in the present case.
- Income earned from royalties, trusts and estates.
Healthcare Cost Coverage
The child support amount also covers the healthcare cost of the child. Healthcare costs comprise all medical or dental healthcare paid by each parent at their own expense. Healthcare costs also include health insurance and prescription medication costs. The child support obligation of each parent also encompasses all prepaid health-related expenses of the child that the parent bared.
Furthermore, where the child is minor, the Court shall put forth a health insurance clause in its order. This occurs in instances where the increment of adding health insurance does not exceed 5% of the gross income of the parent. In such cases, health insurance becomes accessible to the child.
Childcare Costs Coverage
The amount of child support covers childcare costs as well. The child support amount provided by each parent includes all daycare, after-school care, or babysitting expenses, collectively referred to as Childcare cost. This amount also covers the additional costs incurred by parents during summer months, spring breaks, holidays and weekends but may not include other additional expenses.
Situations may arise where neither of the parents is able to provide care for their child because of work obligations; in such instances, the childcare cost in child support may be used to cover the expense.
Difference Between Child Support and Alimony
Even though Child support and alimony are concepts of maintenance provided by one spouse to the other, they are different and can co-exist. Child support is designed to meet the child’s basic needs, including food, clothing, medical care, housing, and other necessities created in the child’s best interests. The child support amount is only available for the financial benefit of the child and not the spouse.
Alimony, on the other hand, is provided to support the spouse receiving it who is unable to maintain a similar lifestyle to which they were accustomed during the period of marriage.
Moreover, both child support and alimony are independent of each other in all instances.
Joint Custody/Time-sharing of Child Support in Florida
The State of Florida provides Guidelines to calculate the amount of child support that must be provided. The “Joint custody” or “Time-sharing” of child support in Florida depends on the calculations as per these Guidelines.
The calculations following the Guidelines consider several factors: each party’s income, the number of overnights, the cost of childcare, payment of insurance. All these factors play a crucial role in determining whether a party has to pay for child support. These calculations also pave the way for the Court to decide whether to allow joint custody or not.
Visitation and Child Support
Every parent has the right to visit their children. Visitation and child support are not dependent on each other. Even in instances where a parent does not provide child support, he/she has the right to visitation. Child support is provided to take care of the daily needs of the child and support its financial benefit while visitation, on the other hand, focuses on the bond between the parent and the child.
Payment of Child Support
The payment of the child support amount can be made via two methods. The most common practice is paying the child support to the custodial parent directly. The second method would be to obtain an income deduction order from the Court. In this method, the order of the Court would go to the employer who, in turn, would process and deduct the amount from the paycheck and forward it to the child support office. The child support office eventually hands over the amount to the spouse taking care of the child. Both the methods are viable options and ultimately depends on what either party agrees upon.
Child Support Modification in Florida
The Court may grant a modification of the child support amount. Any party who pays child support may seek a modification of the same in Florida with the Court’s prior approval. The party seeking modification will have to notify the Court with the current child support amount that is being paid along with the substantial change that is brought forth. The modification appeal must also comprise the reason for revision.
Modification cannot occur for trivial or unimportant reasons. The Court will not entertain the party seeking a modification for not wanting to provide for child support. There have to be significant material reasons such as wage cut or termination at a job due to disability. The Court will require concrete reasoning about any modifications on the payment of child support.
Can a Non-Custodial Parent change the Child Support Order if the child is living with them?
As mentioned earlier, a child support order can be modified with prior approval from the Court. The Court will have to be advised about the time-sharing schedule change. This is necessary in cases where the child is spending more time and lives with the non-custodial parent than the custodial parent. In such instances, the amount of child support will have to be recalculated. The new amount is calculated considering the changing number of overnights, which changes the amount of child support. The new amount replaces the existing amount after recalculations.
Reduction in Child Support Payment
The amount of child support provided can be substantially reduced by spending more time with the child. The method of calculation of child support complies with the Guidelines provided by the State of Florida. The Guidelines take into account the time spent by each parent on the child. The guidelines then base the child support amount in terms of income and the number of overnights. The more number of overnights that are spent on the child by a parent, the less the child support obligation he or she needs to pay. In other words, the amount of time spent with the child will have an inversely proportional effect on the parent’s child support obligation.