How is Child Support Calculated in Jacksonville, FL?
Financial Obligations as a Parent in Florida
In the state of Florida, both parents are legally required to contribute to the financial support of their child. While this typically wouldn't be an issue for married couples, parents who are unmarried or who have recently sought a divorce would be required to figure out an arrangement in which both parties could contribute to child-related expenses.
In order to do so, the court would need to assign child support through an established formula so that the non-custodial parent could contribute to the cost of rent, electricity, transportation, food, health insurance, medical expenses and other household bills. These payments would be made to the parent with primary child custody on a monthly basis. Since the designated amount of child support would be calculated through a formula, however, the "paying parent" would have little room to negotiate or demand lower payments.
Determined by a Three-Step Process
At Charles E. Willmott, P.A., one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is, "How will child support be calculated during my divorce?" While you could gain a more accurate understanding of just how much child support you would be expected to pay or receive when using an online child support calculator, it is important to understand that this amount will ultimately be determined by taking three things into consideration: 1) both parents' combined income before expenses, 2) the percentage of income that each parent contributes to the total and 3) the types of financial obligations that would apply to your case. For this reason, I encourage you to review the information below to gain a better understanding of how child support is calculated in Florida:
#1: Both parents' income are added together for a combined total
- Both parents' monthly income, before expenses, would be added together to establish a combined income. For example, if you make $1,060 a month and your spouse makes $1,290 a month, the applicable amount of total income would be $2,350.
#2: The percentage of contributed income is calculated for each parent
- Next, it would be determined what percentage each parent contributes to the combined total income. Using the previous example, it would be determined that your income makes up 45% of the total income ($2,350) and your spouse's makes up about 55%.
#3: Child support is assigned proportionate to these percentages
- Using the child support guidelines that have been set out in the Florida legislature, each parent's obligations would be calculated accordingly. In this example, the basic obligation would be $515 per month and your spouse would be responsible for paying 55% ($282.25).
Determining Which Allowable Deductions Would Apply to Your Case
Although parents are not permitted to negotiate with the court for lower monthly payments—unless they have requested a child support modification with proof of a significant and long-lasting change in circumstances—allowable deductions may reduce the total amount when properly applied.
Most Jacksonville divorce lawyers are aware of these allowable deductions, but it is important that you trust in a professional who is up-to-date with the most current deductions—as the laws surrounding child support are constantly changing. Some of the most notable deductions that could apply to your case include health insurance premiums, alimony, union dues, retirement payments, uniform expenses and any other child support payments. To ensure that all applicable deductions are applied to your case, it is highly recommended that you consult with the legal team at Charles E. Willmott, P.A.
Can I modify my child support obligations once they have been set by the court?
You may not have much of a say when it comes to initially calculating your child support obligations, but it is important to understand that would have the right to request a modification if certain circumstances change thereafter. In order to do so, you would need to show the court that a significant, unanticipated and lasting change has taken place after the original child support order was issued.
This could include a recent job loss, the acquisition of unexpected medical expenses and/or the legal emancipation of your child, just to name a few. In order for the court to grant such a request, however, the change must warrant at least a 15% increase or decrease in the amount of your monthly payments—or a $50 difference per month, depending on which is greater.
For this reason, I suggest that you discuss your case with my firm's Jacksonville divorce lawyers before attempting to modify an existing order.