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How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?


When a couple with minor children splits up in Florida, the state uses a formula to determine the amount of child support. This formula is based on the parents’ combined net income as well as the number of children, the shared parenting schedule, and the cost of health insurance. The court has some discretion ihere, but generally the calculation determines whether and how much support is owed. Child support payments can represent a significant financial factor for both the parent paying and the parent receiving. If you’re wondering how child support is calculated in Florida, here are some useful facts.

Worried about how child support payments can affect your financial situation? A financial advisor can help.

Child Support Basics

Child support is a financial payment made to ensure that a child’s financial needs are met following divorce or separation. Sometimes a non-custodial parent makes payments directly to the primary custodian parent, but more often a state agency collects and distributes the money.

Child support paid by parents helps reduce the number of children eligible for government welfare payments. That’s one reason the federal government incentivizes state agencies to maximize child support collections. State collection efforts are vigorous, and failure to pay can lead to penalties, interest, loss of occupational licenses and imprisonment.

States use different means to calculate how much support will be paid. Texas, for instance, sets child support as a percentage of the paying parent’s net monthly income. This approach is also used in some other states. When child support is calculated in Florida, the state uses a more complicated approach called the income shares model, which is based on an estimate of the amount parents would spend on the child or children if they had remained together.

Florida Child Support Rules

An ex-husband and ex-wife working on their custody agreement and calculating child support in Florida.

Florida’s child support guidelines consider each parent’s monthly net income, the number of children, the shared parenting schedule and the child or children’s health insurance costs. Courts can set a child support amount up to 5% more or less in some circumstances. However, the guidelines are usually followed. How child support is calculated in Florida typically involves the following process:

First, each parent submits a financial affidavit. There are different forms for parents with incomes under $50,000 and those with incomes over $50,000. The report starts by determining each parent’s gross income, which covers nearly any income source, including:

  • Salary and wages
  • Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime and tips
  • Self-employment, partnerships, corporations, independent contracts, royalties, trusts and estates
  • Unemployment, disability and workers’ compensation benefits
  • Social Security, pension, retirement and annuity payments
  • Interest and dividends
  • Spousal support
  • Rental income
  • Reimbursed expenses
  • Recurring gains from dealing in property

Public assistance and non-recurring gains from dealings in property are excluded. The court can also consider other sources of income not on this list when determining how child support is calculated in Florida.

After figuring gross income, certain expenses are deducted to arrive at net income. Allowed deductions include:

  • Federal, state, and local income taxes
  • FICA and self-employment tax
  • Union dues
  • Retirement payments
  • Health insurance payments
  • Payments of court-ordered support for other children
  • Payments for spousal support

Once these deductions are subtracted from each parent’s gross income, their net incomes are added together. This combined net income figure, along with the number of children, is used to identify a minimum child support need listed in a grid.

Next, each parent’s net monthly income is divided by the total combined net monthly income. The resulting percentage indicates how much of the minimum child support need each parent is responsible for.

Then comes the number of overnight stays the child will spend with each parent. The more overnights, the less the parent owes. A parent with fewer than 73 nights uses the already-calculated percentage. If both parents care for the child or children more than 73 nights each, the obligation is multiplied by 1.5. This is to account for the added costs of maintaining two households.

The same percentages used to determine the primary support obligation determine each parent’s share of additional child-related expenses, such as childcare, school costs and healthcare premiums. These obligations are in addition to the primary support amount.

Finally, the parent with the higher support obligation is designated as the payer. Subtract the obligation of the parent with the lower obligation from the obligation of the payer parent, and this will be the amount paid.

An Example of the Florida Child Support Calculation

The state maintains a worksheet to help parents with these calculations. Here’s an example of how it works.

One parent calculates their net income at $4,000 monthly. The other reports net income of $3,000 monthly. The couple have two children. Using the combined net income of $7,000 for two children, the grid shows the minimum support need is $1,885.

Dividing the higher-earning parent’s $4,000 in monthly net income by the $7,000 combined net income figure shows their share is 57%. This parent’s support obligation is 57% of $1,885, or $1,074. The other parent’s percentage obligation is $3,000 divided by $7,000, or 43%. Their share of the obligation is 42% times $1,885, or $791. Rounded percentages used in this example don’t add up to 100%.

In addition, the two children have $240 per month in school expenses and health insurance premiums. The higher-earning parent’s share of this is 57% times $240, or $137. The lower-earning parent’s share is 42% times $240, or $101. Again, rounding makes percentages add up to less than 100%.

In this case, one parent does not keep the children overnight more than 73 days a year, so the primary support amount is not modified. The parent with the higher obligation owes $1,074 plus $137, or $1,211. The other parent’s obligation is $791 plus $101, or $892. Deducting $892 from $1,211 produces $319, which is the amount of child support to be paid.

Bottom Line

Learning to co-parent after calculating child support payments in Florida.

Florida uses an income shares model to set child support amounts. This calculation employs the parents’ combined net income, the number of children, and other expenses including healthcare, to set an amount that will be paid. In some cases, the amount of time each parent cares for the children is also considered when setting the child support payment amount.

Child Support Tips

  • Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If determining how child support is calculated in Florida gets too confusing and you’re concerned about how it could affect your financial situation, it can helpful to enlist the aid of a financial planner or a certified divorce financial analyst.
  • Use SmartAsset’s Florida paycheck calculator to tell you much you’ll take home after federal income taxes and other withheld amounts are deducted.

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