Both biological (or adoptive) parents of a child are required to financially support a child in Florida, and, when the parents are no longer married or have never been married, a court will usually order that one parent pay regular child support to the other parent on behalf of the child until the child reaches the age of majority. How this child support figure is reached is based on Florida state law, and a Florida judge will apply the following factors in determining the child support payment.
The Income of Each Parent (Including Income Potential)
Other than the number of children being supported (the more children you have, the more you will have to pay), the most significant factor a court will examine in calculating the child support payment is the income of each parent. Income includes a wide variety of income sources, including salary, wages, bonuses, commissions, business income, disability benefits, retirement benefits, social security benefits, rental income, and investment income. This income amount is subject to deductions, including tax income deductions, current spousal or child support awards, mandatory retirement contributions, etc.
In addition, a court will also look at whether a parent could be earning more than he or she is actually earning but is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. If so, a court can impute a higher income to a parent than what he or she is actually making in determining income.
The court will then combine both spouses’ income together to reach a combined monthly net income and apply a minimum child support amount based on a table provided by state law.
The Time and Resources Each Parent Expends Caring for the Child
Many parents in Florida both participate in providing for the child’s needs, including providing food and shelter pursuant to a time-sharing agreement. Clearly, one parent who spends no time with the child will not have to shell out money regularly to pay for the child’s needs, and so that parent will be expected to pay a higher amount in child support than a parent who shares parenting time 50/50 with the other parent. Thus, the court will factor in how much time and resources each parent will be devoting to the child in setting how much one parent will have to pay the other in a child support payment.
Other Factors a Court Will Incorporate
The Florida courts also recognize that not all children are the same with regard to their financial needs, and will address the particular needs of a child in further adjusting the monthly support amount. Likewise, parents have their own special financial circumstances a court can consider. Thus, the courts will address a number of other potential factors in determining an award, which can include:
- The costs of a child’s special healthcare needs
- A parent’s overall assets (beyond monthly income)
- Seasonal differences in income
- A child’s independent income
- The age of the child
- Special needs of a child
- Any other factor that a court chooses to consider
Because so many factors go into reaching a child support payment, and child support payments can be quite significant over time, parents are encouraged to work with an experienced Florida family law attorney in achieving favorable outcomes in these matters.
Legal Help in Your Florida Child Support Matter
Whether you are seeking child support, responding to a child support request, enforcing a child support order, or seeking a modification, The Law Offices of Ira M. Marcus, P.A. in Miami can help. Contact our office today to set up a consultation with a trusted and caring family law attorney.