Question: What factors does the judge use when calculating child support in Florida?
The first factors is simple: How many children are involved in the case where the child support calculation is being made.
The second factor is both parent’s gross incomes -- in other words, your income before you pay your taxes. This includes income from any source -- wages, salary, commissions, overtime, bonuses, workers comp, disability benefits, social security, investment income, rental income, etc.
About the only way that I see clients receive money that is not included in their income when calculating child support is when they receive child support for a child that is not involved in the current case.
It is very important to understand that just because you may be unemployed, the court is not required to use zero as your income. The court may impute an amount of income to you if it thinks that your unemployment or underemployment is voluntary. The amount imputed is based on your experience and education.
The third factor to consider are the allowable deductions from income. These deductions lower your income that is used to calculate child support. The main allowable deductions include state and federal income taxes, child support that you are paying for another child that is court ordered, the cost of your own medical insurance ** not including the amount paid for the children involved in the current case **, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, and alimony paid by you in this case or another case.
The fourth factor is the number of nights that each parent will spend with the child over the course of a year. The Florida Statutes provide for a reduction in child support if a parent spends more than 73 nights per year with the child. Every night in addition to 73 will result in an increased reduction.
The fifth factor is how much is paid for child care and the child’s medical insurance. For example, let’s assume that a Husband makes 60% of the money between him and his Wife and the Wife makes 40% and pays $500 per month for the child’s day care.
In this scenario, the Husband would be responsible for 60% -- his percentage of income -- of the cost of the day care. So he is responsible for $300. Since the Wife pays all $500, the Husband would pay his share to the Wife as an additional $300 of child support. When a child no longer has a day care expense, the parent paying child support very often has sufficient grounds to have the child support amount reduced.
So, these are the factors that the court will use to calculate child support. It’s also important to note that the judge will not consider your rent, mortgage, car payment, car insurance, gas, food, and other expenses that I did not previously mention.