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Calculating Child Support
Issues involving children are perhaps the most emotionally-charged and passionately-argued in a divorce settlement. But when it comes to figuring child support, you can check your feelings at the door. Child support goes strictly by the numbers. (Compare that to alimony, which is almost entirely at the discretion of the court and considers all sorts of personal factors, including whether one of the spouses was unfaithful.)
Florida statute 61.30 details a straightforward, if somewhat complicated, process for calculating the child support obligations of each parent. At the heart of the calculation is a guideline schedule laid out as a matrix, with the combined monthly net income of the parents plotted against the number of children requiring support. The meeting point of those two figures shows the dollar amount to be used as the minimum overall support requirement for the child or children.
And then, the calculations begin. The Florida courts provide a worksheet to be completed by each parent, with step-by-step instructions and line-by-line data to be provided. If you have ever filled out a tax return form, you have an idea of what to expect.
The main numbers you will need to provide are:
- The net monthly income of each parent, counting all income sources including salary, wages, bonuses, tips, disability and workers comp benefits, unemployment compensation, alimony from a previous marriage etc.
- Monthly child care and health insurance costs for the children and which parent typically pays them.
- The number of nights per year the children spend at the home of each parent.
- The dollar amount of the support requirement from the guideline schedule, with each parent responsible for a proportionate share based on their relative net monthly income.
You can best serve your interests by working with a Tampa divorce attorney to ensure these numbers get filled in accurately by both parents.