I get a lot of phone calls from people who recently attended a hearing where their child support obligation was calculated. The number one complaint is that they are not sure that the calculation is correct. They tell me that they were presented with a piece of paper with a lot of numbers on it -- but no explanation about what those numbers mean.
In this short video, I display a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and walk through -- part by part -- what the various numbers mean and how they impact the calculation.
I have many other F.A.Q. videos that offer a more in depth discussion of child support, income, and deductions.
Transcript of Video:
I’m going to walk through what all these numbers mean in a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. Hopefully so you can better understand what is going on here. There are a lot of numbers. Only a very few are actually input into the system.
This is a sample worksheet, not an actual client’s worksheet. But this is more in line with what you will see at a court hearing, rather than the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet that the Supreme Court of Florida puts on their website.
The first thing to notice is the number of children. The combines number of children. Here we have two (2) children. And they are living primarily with the Wife. Zero of the children living with the Husband. The next data that is input in the first section up here is in the income section. It shows a Wife with $3,109 of monthly income, and a Husband with $5400 of monthly income. It totals these numbers up to $8,509. These other lines here are for other ways you can make money. Basically they are all treated the same except for non-taxable income -- which generally only comes up in a military context (but there are others). So the difference between the $8,509 and the $7,285 are the various deductions and this is what the rest of this side of the worksheet is talking about. It lists the various deductions -- alimony payments, taxes, and other main ones union -- dues, mandatory retirement plans, parent’s health insurance cost (but not the children’s, that is treated somewhere else). But the parent’s health insurance cost as well as child support that is ordered and paid in other cases -- not this case, but is ordered and paid in other cases.
Each parent’s net income is calculated and then it’s added up to the $7,285 -- and that’s the number that is reflected on the next screen with the minimum child support need of $1,921.
OK, so to review, the only numbers input on the left side of the screen were the number of children, the income of the Wife, the income of the Husband -- nothing was input as any alimony payment made by either party. The taxes are calculated automatically, and there are no other deductions used. The numbers here at the bottom are all automatically calculated. And that gets us to the other side where we initially see the minimum child support need of $1,921.
So starting on this side, the numbers that are input are simply …. the number of overnights that the children are going to have with the Husband. Based on the minimum child support need of $1921, the two (2) next numbers get divided up based on the percentages of income. So, in this situation, the Husband would typically pay $1108 a month in child support. That’s not going to be the case here because of the number of nights [with the children]. The law requires a reduction in his child support if he spends more than 20% of the nights with the children. Here is shows you his percentage -- 27.4%. So that will provide, due to some interesting math provided by the statute, a pre-adjustment transfer -- so that’s his base child support amount based on his number of nights and his income -- of $873.
Next we go down to a couple of expenses that are counted in a child support calculation. First, this hypothetical couple pays $450 a month in day care costs and $350 a month in medical. And here you can see that the Wife pays the child care and the Husband pays the medical . Each is responsible for only a portion of those numbers even though they pay the entire amount of each one. The Wife is responsible for 42.3% of both costs. And the Husband is responsible for 57.7% of both costs. So instead of the having the Wife pay some money to the Husband and the Husband paying some money to the Wife, there’s only one transfer and that’s the $111.68 that the Husband pay in additional child support due to these expenses. We add that to the pre-adjustment transfer and you have him final child support amount of $985.06.