In general, child support orders define obligations that parents have with regard to supporting their children. While many parents may be familiar with child support, they may also wonder how child support is calculated. In Florida, child support amounts are calculated based on child support guidelines. These guidelines seek to determine the amount of support a child needs and the amount of support a parent is required to pay.
While some parents may experience frustration with the child support system, the intention is to ensure that the children are properly cared for and that all required child support amounts are fair. Child support guidelines are not only utilized to determine the amount of support required by the initial child support order, but are also utilized to determine any changes that are necessary to the child support order based on a request by one of the parents for a child support modification. By utilizing child support guidelines, every effort is made to ensure fairness.
The basic guidelines that are considered include the income of each of the parents; the child’s healthcare costs and child care costs; and the standard needs of the child. While courts are required to follow the guidelines to determine the amount of child support required, the court may diverge from the guidelines in special situations, such as when a child’s healthcare costs are exceptionally high.
Once the court has determined what the child requires and the amount a parent must pay, the child support order becomes enforceable and consequences will apply for failure to pay the required support. While parents may have many questions concerning child support, it is important for both paying parents and parents receiving child support to effectively understand the answers to child support questions.
Source: Florida Department of Revenue, “Child Support Amounts,” Accessed Nov. 17, 2014