Child Support Can be More Complicated Than it Appears


Child support is an important issue in cases involving children, especially where one parent is voluntarily unemployed, voluntarily underemployed, or is dishonest about their true income as every parent in Florida has a legal obligation to provide financially for their children.  When it comes to child support, it is important to have a seasoned Tampa child support attorney on your side and get it right the first time.

Child support calculations are governed by the Florida Child Support Guidelines set forth in section 61.30, Florida Statutes, which sets forth a formula to calculate a parent’s monthly support obligation based on the combined net income of the parents, the number of minor children, certain credits and adjustments for certain childcare expenses such as daycare and health insurance, and the amount of time that the child or children spend with each parent (the time-sharing schedule).

While at first glance, child support may appear to be straightforward, many mistakes are often made by attorneys in preparing financial affidavits, knowing what constitutes “income” and how to calculate income.  It is not always as simple as it may seem.  Experience counts.

Parental Income

Florida’s child support guidelines take into account all relevant income, including:

  1. Salary or wages;

  2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, etc;

  3. Business income from self-employment, partnership, closely-held corporations, and independent contracts;

  4. Disability benefits;

  5. Workers’ compensation benefits and settlements;

  6. Unemployment compensation;

  7. Pension, retirement, and annuity payments;

  8. Social security benefits;

  9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in a pending divorce;

  10. Interest and dividends;

  11. Rental income;

  12. Income from royalties, trusts, and estates;

  13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses;

  14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring; and

  15. Disputes over claims of unemployment, underemployment, and inability to work are typically resolved through the litigation process.

There are also other factors involved in chid support cases such as the payment of alimony reducing the payor parent’s income and increasing the recipient parent’s income for the purpose of child support calculations.

Deviating from Child Support Guidelines

As a general rule, Florida courts cannot deviate more than five (5) percent from the child support guidelines calculations.  Depending on the facts of a particular case, however, the statute allows for an upward or downward departure in the discretion of the Court.  These nuances make it important to have the experience of a Tampa child support attorney.  Circumstances justifying a departure from the guidelines include:

  1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expense;

  2. Independent income of the child, not including SSI;

  3. Support for a spouse’s parent that has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need;

  4. Seasonal variations in incomes or expenses;

  5. The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children;

  6. Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child;

  7. The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption;

  8. The particular parenting plan, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 20 percent of the overnights, with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent; or the refusal of a parent to become involved in the activities of the child; and

  9. Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, payment of a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt.


Our team based in Tampa practices divorce and family law throughout Florida, but primarily represents clients in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Polk counties.  Wherever you need an expert attorney who is Board Certified in Marital and Family Law, we stand ready to help .  We thank you for taking the time to review our website. If you have questions, or would like to schedule a consultation at our Tampa office, please contact us at (813) 251-6222.

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