How is child support calculated in a Florida divorce case?

Florida looks at each parent’s gross income, as well as the primary needs of the child when determining a child support amount.

Couples who decide to terminate their marriage in Pensacola or anywhere across Florida may experience emotional and financial difficulties. Unfortunately, children often become involved in the turmoil that accompanies a separation or divorce. Florida courts order child support as a way to minimize the financial changes that occur when their parents divorce. Not only is child support designed to help with the child's day-to-day living expenses, such as education, child care and medical care, but it can help to improve his or her overall quality of life.

What are income shares?

Florida is one of many states that uses income shares to calculate how much child support the parent with less timesharing should pay. This model was created by the National Conference of State Legislatures under the belief that children should have access to the same amount of financial support that they would have been exposed to if their parents had remained together. Rather than use only the "non-custodial" parents' gross income to determine this amount, the judge presiding over the case looks at both parents' gross income when making this calculation.

The gross income amount includes each parent's salary, bonuses, disability benefits, unemployment, workers' compensation and social security. Any spousal or child support that a parent receives from a previous divorce is also calculated into the equation. Florida statutes report that 5 percent of the parents' combined adjusted gross income is used for one child, 7.5 percent for two children, 9.5 percent for three children, 11 percent for four children and 12 percent for five children.

Other considerations

Every divorce case and family situation contains unique circumstances that may require variances in the child support amount. In addition to each parent's gross income, there are several other factors taken into account when determining the final amount of child support that should be paid each month. According to Florida child support guidelines, these include the following:

  • The standard of living that the child was accustomed to during the marriage
  • Health insurance payments
  • Child care expenses
  • Educational costs
  • The amount of time the child spends with each parent

If the child has a physical or psychological condition that requires additional medical care, these costs may be considered as well.

Keeping the child's best interests in mind

Although your child's best interests may be your primary concern, it can be difficult to make important decisions when you are in the midst of a stressful divorce. You may want to seek legal counsel from a family attorney in Florida who has experience handling child custody divorce cases. A lawyer may help to answer your questions and point you on the right track as you make those crucial choices.