Child Support – The Who, What, Where, When & Why

More often than not, we are asked how is child support calculated?  Or, “Parent 2 and I agree to $X for child support, is this ok?”  

As we explain to every client with children going through either a Paternity Case or Dissolution of Marriage case, child support is not an arbitrary number picked by either attorneys or the courts.  Rather, it is based on Florida Child Support Guidelines, enacted by the legislature.

Although there are many nuances to child support calculations for the most part it can be easily explained.

Child support will take into consideration both parties’ gross incomes (what is “gross income” can be an issue in and of itself) as well as which parent will claim the child on his or her taxes.  There are allowable deductions used in order to obtain net income, such as federal income tax withholdings, social security, Medicare, health insurance (parent’s portion), mandatory retirement payment, and union dues, among others.

Next, we take into consideration each party’s amount of over overnights (note: just because it is a 50/50 split does not mean neither party is paying child support).

In addition, we take into account which party is paying for a child’s medical insurance and what amount, as well as which parent is paying for childcare, and what amount.

Assuming there are no extraordinary issues in a particular case which would warrant a deviation in child support, we can take the above information and calculate a party’s child support obligation.

The only time we are usually able to waive child support is if the obligation is de minimis in value.  Parents should always remember that child support does not belong to either party; rather, parents are merely trustees of child support.