Florida child support guidelines

Florida parents dealing with child support concerns may wonder how amounts are computed and what to expect when modifications are needed. A number of issues are taken into consideration by the court, including a child's age, needs, standard of living and stage of life. Additionally, the financial condition and abilities of each parent may be taken into consideration. While guidelines based on income direct the amount of support to be ordered, a variation of 5 percent more or less than that amount may be ordered with appropriate justification.

State child support guidelines are based on income levels of the parents and the number of children to be supported. A parent's gross income includes wages or salary, but many additional sources of income are considered as well. Bonuses or commissions are considered along with tips or similar payments above basic wages. Business income is also considered, consisting of gross receipts less expenses needed to generate such income. Unemployment income, disability, and workers' compensation are also considered. A parent receiving payments from an annuity or retirement account will have these funds considered as well.

A parent who is unemployed but deemed to be intentionally avoiding gainful employment might find that potential earnings are imputed for the purpose of establishing a support order. Recent work history and occupational abilities and qualifications may play a role in this determination. In cases of a parent seeking a modification of a child support order, an affidavit may be required with information about current income and allowable deductions. Time sharing or parenting plans may be considered in computing a support order as well.

A change in circumstance for a parent who owes support could result in a hardship. In cases involving the birth of a new child, loss of a job or other serious life event, it can be important to meet with a family law attorney to begin the process of petitioning the court for a modification of the existing order.

Source: The Florida Legislature, "The 2014 Florida Statutes", September 22, 2014

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