When you have a minor child, you are responsible for that child financially. In a divorce or custody case, one parent may be ordered to pay child support to the other parent. The purpose is simple: to help the parent with primary custody pay for essential things the child needs, like:
These are the bare minimum needs, of course. Child support may also be used to pay for things like extracurricular activities, school fees, and clothing.
Whether you are the parent paying or the parent receiving the child support, you may wonder how the determination on the amount is made. The amount is up to the court, but here we discuss four specific factors a court considers when determining child support payments in Florida.
How much do you make compared to the other parent? The court will look at the following – according to Florida's Support Guidelines – to determine gross income:
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. Reemployment assistance or 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.
Monthly income is also considered, especially in regard to unemployed or underemployed parents.
The Guidelines also provide a chart that considers the combined monthly net income and the number of children, and this is meant to identify the minimum support a child needs. The chart goes up to $10,000 in monthly net income. For net income greater than that amount, percentages of income set in to determine child support.
Once the court knows what the net income is, it can determine what the minimum child support need is. But that does not mean child support will be set at that amount. The court may adjust it for things like healthcare premiums, daycare costs, medical bills, spousal support, and any other credible deduction. Of particular interest to the court are things like custodial parent needs, previous standard of living, and timesharing.
Custodial Parent Needs
The custodial parent is likely to incur more expenses than the non-custodial parent. There are things that always come up, whether it's day-to-day living or larger one-time expenses. The court will consider the greater burden of finances the custodial parent has versus the non-custodial parent has.
Previous Standard of Living
The court aims to keep the child at a standard of living comparable to what he or she had experienced prior to a divorce or breakup. When there are two incomes, the standard of living is likely to be better, and so child support payment will consider what amount is necessary to retain some of the same standard of living the child experienced previously.
How many nights will the non-custodial parent have with the child, or – for that matter – how much time will each parent spend with the child? The parents' plan on timesharing will be reviewed. It is possible that both parents will spend a comparable amount of time while many times, one parent bears most of the responsibility to care for the child.
There are always other factors specific to the case that may prove important to the granting of child support and the amount the court will order. This includes things like the child's age, healthcare costs specific to the child, among other reasons.
Calculating Child Support in Orlando Florida
Once all the above factors are considered, the court will determine what child support should be set as. So, child support is defined clearly in the Guidelines with specific numbers laid out in accordance with net income, but when other factors are added into the equation, the final amount can change.
With the help of an experienced child support attorney in Orlando, you can make sure child support is established at an amount right for you and your child(ren). If you have questions, contact Veliz Katz Law to get answers.