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Deviating From Florida Child Support Guidelines
In Florida, child support is based on standard child support guidelines. Several factors are used to calculate child support obligations. Both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children, even if they decide to divorce or never marry each other.
In some cases, judges may deviate from Florida child support guidelines. Understanding how child support is calculated is the first step in understanding why judges deviate from the standard guidelines.
What Information Do I Need to Calculate Child Support in Florida?
The four main factors that are used to calculate child support obligations are:
The income of each parent
Child care costs
Health insurance costs
Parents pay child support based on their ability to pay and their earning potential. Calculating income can be one of the most complicated steps in calculating child support.
Examples of income used for child support calculations include, but are not limited to:
Salaries, wages, and overtime pay
Spousal support from a prior marriage
Social Security, disability income, and workers’ compensation benefits
Investment and retirement income
Interest and dividends
Time-sharing is another important factor. When a parent has more than 20% of the overnights with a child, it can substantially impact the child support amount.
Child care and health insurance costs are also included in the child support guidelines. These expenses are necessary for the care and well-being of the child, so parents are expected to pay their share of these costs.
How to Calculate Child Support in Florida
The state uses an Income Shares Model to determine child support. The courts attempt to estimate how much money the parents would spend on their children if they were together. That amount is divided between the parents based on their incomes.
This amount is a presumptive amount for child support. Therefore, the courts are expected to order this amount of child support payments.
The guidelines use the parents’ net incomes and the number of children to be supported to determine the amount of child support. Based on these two factors, the guidelines provide a grid showing how much support should be paid. Childcare costs and health insurance costs are also split between the parents and added to the presumptive amount of child support.
Deviating From Florida Child Support Guidelines
The court is allowed to deviate from child support guidelines by five percent below or above the guidelines if the judge believes the circumstances of the case warrant a deviation.
Judges can exceed the five percent deviation limit allowed by law. However, the judge must state the grounds for deviating from the child support guidelines by more than five percent in the court order.
Parents asking for a deviation from child support guidelines must file a motion with the court. The motion should explain the reasons why the parent is requesting the deviation.
Reasons why the court might consider a deviation from the guidelines include, but are not limited to:
The child has special needs that are much higher than the average child
Time-sharing schedules require high travel costs
The guidelines require a parent to pay more than 55% of their income as child support
The child receives public benefits or other income
One or both parents have seasonal income
The total assets of the child, the recipient, or payor are sufficient to warrant a deviation
The family has extraordinary educational, medical, dental, and psychological expenses
The parent receiving support has an income that is too low for them to maintain a home and the basic necessities for the family
The impact of tax situations, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, or a dependency exemption
Tell your Orlando child support lawyer about all situations that could impact your family’s finances, especially expenses related to your children. An attorney can review the factors in your case to determine if they might justify a deviation from Florida child support guidelines.
Can I Request a Deviation of Child Support After the Order Is Signed?
Once the court issues a child support order, the parents must file a motion to modify the amount of child support.
Reasons for modifying child support can include, but are not limited to:
Changes in income
Time-sharing and/or custody changes
A parent becomes disabled or seriously ill and cannot work
A substantial decrease or increase in a parent’s income
Increased cost of living expenses
Healthcare expenses increase
A child develops special needs
The rules for deviations from child support guidelines will be the same if you are asking the court to modify child support. Therefore, you need to convince the judge that a modification of child support and a deviation from the guidelines is justified.
Working with an experienced Orlando child support attorney gives you a better chance of obtaining the relief you request. An attorney understands the law and how judges view requests for deviations from child support guidelines.