Under Florida law, child support payments are set according to what the statutes refer to as guidelines. Specific provisions are contained in Chapter 61 of the laws governing civil practice and procedure known as Title VI of the Florida Statutes.
When a marriage ends, couples with children are often at odds. The emotions of the breakup are difficult enough, and worry over their children's well-being can foster contentiousness. Unlike division of property and other divorce settlement issues, financially providing for minor or disabled children is something the court may handle in certain situations.
The child support guidelines in initial proceedings or follow-up modification petitions establish the dollar value that the judge, also called the trier of fact, shall order. He or she may order up to five percent more or less deviation from the guideline amounts based on a family's unique circumstances. A child's age, station in life, standard of living and the financial status and ability of each parent will be considered. With written documentation, a deviation of more than five percent is allowed.
Facts contributing to the determination include each parent's gross salary plus bonuses, commissions, overtime and the like. Business income, disability or workers' compensation benefits are included, as are unemployment compensation, retirement income, spousal support from a previous marriage, dividends and interest, rental income, royalties, trust or estate payments and expense reimbursements if they reduce that parent's cost of living. If a parent doesn't provide this information, the court may input income equal to the median income of year-round, full-time workers in the area he or she resides. The exception would be if the trier of fact finds that parent must remain at home with the child who is the subject of the calculation.
Subject to individual adjustments allowed by the court on a case-by-case basis, each parent's percentage share of the child support calculated need is determined by dividing each parent's net monthly income by the combined net monthly income. To identify each parent's dollar share, their percentage share of the combined monthly net income is multiplied by the minimum child support need.
As mentioned before, while the formula is statutory, there are unique family situations that are reviewed by the trier of fact before an award is made. There are also other factors and situations that might impact child support payments, including mediation and support agreements between parties.
Source: Florida Statutes, "Title VI, Chapter 61, Section 30," accessed April. 13, 2015