Florida uses guidelines to determine how much child support each parent pays. Both parents have to
contribute to the support of their children. However, the parent that pays more pays the amount to the
parent that contributes the lesser amount. Contrary to belief, the courts cannot arbitrarily pick an
amount for the paying parent to pay. Rather, Florida has “guidelines” that take several factors into
account when figuring how much child support the parents pay.
What Child Support Covers
Child support is to support the children, which includes more than food and clothing. A parent receiving
child support may use the support for:
Entertainment for the children;
Gifts for the children;
Medical expenses, including prescriptions;
Transportation, including buying a vehicle and gas and maintenance for the vehicle;
School and/or daycare expenses; and
Any other expense that is related to the children.
Child Support Calculations
Florida Statutes use the parents’ net incomes to determine child support. You might have to provide
your gross income as certain items are deducted from that, including taxes and other mandatory
payments that are deducted from your paycheck. In most cases, child support is not a 50/50 division
because one parent usually makes more than the other. For example, if one parent makes $3,000 per
month and the other parent makes $2,000 per month, the split is 60/40. The parent who makes the
lesser amount pays the lower percentage.
The more overnights you have, the more it costs you in food, utilities and other cost-of-living items. The
person who has the majority of the time-sharing gets the child support payment. For example, using the
60/40 split, if one parent makes more than the other and has the majority of time-sharing, the parent
with the lesser amount of time-sharing and the lower income pays his or her 40 percent to the parent
with the majority of time-sharing. If the parent who makes less has the children for the majority of the
time, the parent who makes more pays his or her 60 percent to the other parent.
If you never lived together, you still need to make sure your children are well-cared for. Your children
should be able to live as comfortably as they did before you and the other parent decided to divorce,
break up or separate.
Because having a good relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the children, some
parents agree to 50/50 time-sharing. In that case, the guidelines provide for an adjustment to child
support since both parents have equal time with the children. If both parents have very similar salaries
and you decide to split time-sharing equally, you could have a situation where neither parent pays child
support. However, you might equally share in certain expenses such as child care and medical expenses
that are not covered by insurance.
In addition to basic child support payments, both parents are expected to contribute to the children’s
schooling and/or child care expenses and the children’s medical expenses. The guidelines also account
for these payments. They are added to the basic child support amount and are also based on the same
percentages as the basic child support. For example, Baby A has daycare expenses of $1,000 per month.
Parent 2 has the bulk of the time-sharing. Parent 1 pays basic child support at 60 percent to Parent 2.
Parent 1 also pays 60 percent of the medical and daycare expenses, unless the parents agree otherwise.
Changing the Child Support Amount
It is very difficult to modify child support in Florida. You must be able to show the court that you have an
unexpected change in circumstances if you want to decrease child support. Losing a job is not enough –
the courts expect you to get a job and continue supporting your children. However, if you can no longer
work because of an injury that prevents you from working, you must apply to reduce child support
through the courts.
If both parents agree to the reduced amount, you can also have a Florida child support attorney draft an
agreement and submit it to the court to reduce the amount.
If your income increases and you do not volunteer that information, your spouse could ask the court for
an increase in child support, but your spouse must show that the change is significant.
Contact a Florida Child Support Lawyer
If you are ready to file for divorce, have been served with a divorce, are separating or want to modify
the child support amount, contact a Florida child support lawyer to help you through the process.