How is child support calculated? Most often parties to a divorce haven’t the foggiest idea as to how child support is calculated. Quite often parties believe they can just arrive at a “fair number” and that will then be the ongoing child support obligation. Unfortunately, that is not how child support works. Child support calculation pursuant to § 61.30, Fla. Stat., is derived by the following computations:
a. The parents net monthly incomes are combined to determine the total available net income for child support purposes;
b. The child support guideline schedule is applied to the combined net incomes of the parents to determine the basic or minimum child support need;
c. If the child support calculation DOES NOT involve the substantial contact adjustment i.e. where a parent has less than 20% of the overnights, (or less than 73 overnights a year) the costs of health insurance and daycare are added to the basic obligation. If the substantial contact adjustment is appropriate and each parent has 20% or more of the overnights, the adjustments for health insurance and daycare are computed later in the child support calculation;
d. Each parent’s parental payor percentage is determined by dividing each parent’s monthly net income by the combined monthly net income;
e. Each parent’s percentage of the combined net incomes is then applied to the guideline amount plus daycare and health insurance expenses. In a non-substantial contact adjustment case, the computation would end here. Where the substantial contact adjustment applies, the following occurs;
f. Calculate the amount of support obligation apportioned to each parent without including daycare and health insurance costs in the calculation and multiply that amount by 1.5;
g. Calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child spends with each parent;
h. Multiply each parent’s support obligation by the percentage of the other parent’s overnight stays with the child;
i. The difference between the amounts calculated for each parent shall be the monetary transfer necessary between the parents for the care of the child, subject to an adjustment for daycare and health insurance expenses.
j. The parents’ income percentages are then applied to the daycare costs and health insurance costs, with the appropriate credits to the parent paying each expense to arrive at the net amount to be exchanged by the parents.
CHILD CARE COSTS
- Child care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income of current employment of either parent shall be added to the basic obligation. Child care costs may not exceed the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source.
- Even if the child is being cared for by a family member, the trial court may make necessary findings of fact that support such an award.
- Child care expenses have to be actually incurred before they can be added to the child support obligation.
HEALTH INSURANCE AND UNCOVERED HEALTH COSTS
- Each order for support shall contain a provision for health insurance for the minor child when health insurance is reasonable in cost and accessible to the child.
- The court shall further apportion the cost of health insurance and any non-covered medical, dental, and prescription medication by adding the cost to the basic obligation, or by requiring payment on a percentage basis. The trial court must allocate uncovered medical expenses in the same percentage as the child support unless the final judgment contains a logical rationale to the contrary.
- Children can be enrolled directly into a group health plan through a national medical support order, where the employed parent refuses to enroll them on his/her own.
- Unless a child has a constant and recurring medical expense, the better practice is to have each parent responsible for a designated percentage of the expense, as and when the expense is incurred. A child’s actual out of pocket health expense over the course of his or her minority is generally too speculative to set a monthly dollar contribution.
I have attached a child support calculator link to the bottom of this article so anyone can log on and see what type of child support they may be entitled to or obligated to pay. Remember this link may not be completely accurate. Only a qualified family law attorney will be able to tell you the exact amount of child support as it relates to your case.