Establishing and Calculating Child Support in Florida

Protect your child’s future and calculate fair child support with confidence

Florida divorce or separation can feel like your life is being auctioned off. But amidst the emotional whirlwind, one thing remains constant: your responsibility to your child through child support. Our family law attorney in Florida can help you establish and calculate it.

Child support is a vital part of ensuring your child’s financial security. It’s a financial arrangement to ensure a child’s basic needs are met after their parents separate or divorce. It can be challenging, and numbers and legalese can leave you feeling lost. Hence, this guide can be your roadmap through the child support maze. 

Short Summary: 

  • Child support is financial support provided by one parent to help take care of their child after separation or divorce. It ensures the child’s basic needs are met.
  • Child support covers necessities, healthcare, educational expenses, childcare or daycare costs, housing and utilities, and transportation.
  • Child support can be established through an administrative process with the Department of Revenue or the court process with an average timeframe of six to eight months.
  • Calculations are based on the Income Shares Model guidelines. It considers each parent’s gross income, combined income, basic child support obligation, percentage share, parenting time adjustment, healthcare, childcare costs, and other factors.
  • Child support modifications are possible. Common reasons include changes in income, parenting time, the child’s needs, or other significant circumstances.

Understanding how child support works is essential, whether you’re the parent seeking support or the one obligated to pay. We’ll explore practical tips to help you navigate this important aspect of your child’s well-being. Let’s work together to ensure your child’s financial security throughout their development.

What is Child Support? 

Child support is when one parent has to give financial support to help take care of their child after separation or divorce. It promotes financial stability for the child’s upbringing. Usually, it’s the non-custodial parent who has to pay. They provide financial support to help pay for basic needs. That can include food, a place to live, clothes, and other things the child needs. 

What is Covered in Florida Child Support? 

Child support covers various expenses related to the well-being and upbringing of the child. These typically include:

  • Basic Necessities: Child support ensures kids have the basics, like enough food, a safe place to live, and clothes to wear.
  • Healthcare Costs: It helps pay for things like doctor visits, medicine, and trips to the dentist. That also includes paying for health insurance if it’s needed.
  • Educational Expenses: Child support can help with school costs, like paying for books, school supplies, and things needed for sports or clubs.
  • Childcare or Daycare Costs: If a parent needs someone to watch their child while at work, child support can help pay for that too.
  • Housing and Utilities: It can help cover the cost of where the child lives, like rent or electricity bills.
  • Transportation: Child support can help pay for getting to places the child needs to go, like school or the doctor’s office. That might mean paying for gas for the car or bus fare.

The specific expenses covered by child support can vary. It will depend on the circumstances of the case and the terms outlined in the child support order. 

How To Establish Child Support

Child support is one of the most important things to figure out after separation or divorce.  If you live in Florida and need guidance about establishing child support, here’s how:

Determine Eligibility

Child support is typically established when parents are unmarried or divorced with a minor child (under 18 or still in high school).

Choose Your Path

There are two main ways to establish child support in Florida:

  • Administrative Process (Department of Revenue): This is a simpler and faster option for straightforward cases. You can apply online or by phone through the Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Program.
  • Court Process: This is a more complex route involving lawyers and court appearances. It might be necessary if there are complications or disagreements about child support arrangements.

Gather Information (For Either Path)

You’ll need documentation for both options:

  • Proof of your child’s identity (birth certificate)
  • Proof of income for both parents (paystubs, tax returns)
  • Information about childcare costs (if applicable)
  • Information about health insurance costs for the child
  • Proof of any existing child support obligations (if applicable)

Administrative Process

If you choose the administrative route, the Department of Revenue will calculate child support based on Florida’s child support guidelines, considering both parents’ income and the child’s needs. They will attempt to contact the other parent and establish an agreement or hold a hearing if necessary.

Court Process

If you choose the court process, you will file a petition with the court to establish child support. A judge will consider the evidence, including financial information and witness testimonies. Afterward, the court will issue a child support order. That outlines the amount to be paid and how often payments should be made. This order is legally binding and enforceable.

Time Frame

Establishing child support in Florida can take six to eight months, with cooperation from both parents. Enforcement of existing orders is quicker, at four to six months on average. The exact time frame depends on your situation.

How is Child Support Calculated?

Child support calculations in Florida are based on the Income Shares Model. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how child support is calculated in Florida:

Income Calculation

The starting point for child support calculation is determining each parent’s gross income. Gross income includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, dividends, pensions, rental income, and other sources. Deductions such as taxes, union dues, and health insurance premiums are allowed.

Combined Income

After figuring out how much income each parent makes, we add both amounts together to calculate the parents’ total combined income.

Basic Child Support Obligation

The Florida Child Support Guidelines provide a schedule that outlines the basic child support obligation based on the parent’s combined income and the number of children. The basic child support obligation is the amount presumed appropriate to support the child based on the parent’s income.

Percentage Share

Each parent’s percentage share of the combined income is determined based on their income contribution to the total combined income.

Parenting Time Adjustment

If one parent has substantial overnight time-sharing with the child, adjustment to the basic child support obligation is possible. Substantial overnight time-sharing is defined as more than 20% of overnight in a year. 

Healthcare and Childcare Costs

Child support calculations in Florida may include the child’s healthcare and childcare costs. Health insurance premiums are paid for the child. It will be divided between the parents based on their percentage share of income.

Childcare expenses due to employment, education, or job search activities are also included in the child support calculation.

Other Factors

Additional expenses such as extraordinary medical, educational, or extracurricular expenses may be considered. The court has the discretion to deviate from the guidelines if it would be inappropriate or unjust in a particular case.

Final Child Support Amount

The court determines the final child support amount that one parent is obligated to pay to the other. The child support order specifies the amount, payment frequency, and any extra provisions on healthcare, childcare, or other expenses.

Are Child Support Modifications Possible?

Yes, child support modifications are possible in Florida. Either parent can request a modification of the child support order. Some common reasons for seeking a modification include:

  • Change in Income: If a parent’s income changes a lot, like losing a job or getting paid more.
  • Change in Parenting Time: If the time a child spends with each parent changes a lot.
  • Change in Child’s Needs: If the child needs more money to pay for medical bills or school.
  • Change in Child’s Circumstances: If the child requires special medical care or higher educational requirements. 
  • Other Significant Changes: Any other significant change in circumstances that affects the parent’s financial situation or child’s needs. 

If a parent wants to change the child support amount, they usually have to ask the court by filing a petition. They also need to give reasons and evidence why they want the change. Then, the court will review the petition and decide.

Empower Yourself With the Help of Our Family Law Attorney in Florida!

Child support is a crucial part of ensuring your child’s well-being after a separation or divorce. While this guide has provided a foundation for understanding the process, navigating the specifics of child support establishment and calculation can be complex. Here is where Pérez-Calhoun Law Firm can be your best help.

Pérez-Calhoun Law Firm understands the challenges you face during this difficult time. Our family law attorney is dedicated to protecting the best interests of you and your child. We can also provide legal guidance if you are pursuing alimony, child custody, and asset division

Do not hesitate to consult with our family law attorney in Florida. They can empower you to navigate this process confidently and ensure your child receives the financial support they deserve to thrive. Call us today for a free initial consultation! 



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