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What Is Child Support and How It Is Calculated, Modified, and Enforced?

David Scott, P.A. March 7, 2024

Divorces can be tough, but divorces with children are even harder. You have to think about both your child’s wellbeing as well as your own. And with children, one of the things you have to deal with is child support.

In Florida, both parents – even if the child isn’t living with the parents on an equal basis – must support their child financially. Except in cases where a child lives full time with one parent, both parents take care of the child’s needs on a daily basis.

The Florida Child Support Guidelines look at a variety of factors when calculating child support payments. These factors include:

  • The net monthly income of both parents. This is a primary factor that courts look at when determining child support. The courts want to ensure that not only will the child get the support they need but also that the parent is able to afford the monthly payments. If one parent earns less than the other parent, they may not be expected to contribute as much.

  • The number of children who will be receiving the support. The more children involved, the higher the child support payment will be. For example, Florida law says that if your combined net income – the net income of both parents – is $2,000, then one child will have a minimum child support payment of $442 a month, whereas if you have two children, that payment jumps up to a minimum of $686.

  • The monthly cost of daycare for both parents. Both parents may have separate arrangements for their child’s daycare, so the court will look at the expenses for both parents.

  • The monthly cost of medical, dental, and vision insurance for both parents. Florida courts look at the cost of health insurance to ensure that both parents will be able to get the medical help they need if they ever get sick so that they will be able to continue caring for their child. The court will want to establish that you will be able to pay for your health insurance along with any child support arrangement.

These are general guidelines for calculating child support, but every situation is different. The court will consider other factors that may affect child support, such as the travel costs for visiting children if one parent isn’t local, seasonal variations in income, the age and special needs of the child, familial obligations, extraordinary medical or educational expenses, or even if there are other children involved.

Modifications to the original support order can be made if the circumstances change for the parent or the child. For example, you may be able to get the child support amount changed if there has been an increase or decrease in either parent’s income, if the child’s needs have changed and more or less support is needed, if you want to add or remove a child from the support order, if you need to extend the time of the support order, or if you need to add or remove medical support from the order.

If a parent doesn’t fulfill their child support obligation, certain sanctions can be levied against that parent including:

  • Suspend the offender’s licenses (driving, professional, hunting, etc.)

  • Deny a passport

  • Issue an income deduction order

  • Intercept money (tax refunds, lottery winnings, unemployment benefits, etc.)

  • Place a lien against property

  • Freeze financial accounts

  • Arrest the offending parent if everything else fails

  • Award attorney’s fees for hiring a lawyer to help with enforcement

As a parent, you are responsible for your child and that includes financial responsibility so if you have any questions or concerns about your child support agreement or a pending child support agreement, contact an affordable and qualified Florida family law attorney to receive the proper legal guidance for your situation.