Child Support and Income
In order for a Florida court to make a fair determination on how much child support a parent should pay, the court must first assess the income of both parents. This is important because Florida’s Child Support Guidelines are largely based on income.
It is important, then, for parents to understand what the court will consider income for the purposes of determining how much child support a parent should owe.
Florida Law on Income for Child Support Purposes
Section 61.30 of The 2017 Florida Statutes highlights that, broadly speaking, nearly any source of income can be considered income for the purposes of child support. The statute expressly indicates that income for child support purposes can include the following forms of income:
- Salary and wages
- Business income
- Disability benefits
- Pensions/retirement funds
- Net rental income
- Royalty income
- Trusts and estates
- Overtime and tips
- Workers’ compensation and/or unemployment benefits
The Florida law also makes it clear that just because a form of income is not explicitly mentioned in the statute does not mean the court cannot view it as income for the purposes of child support. Florida courts have broad discretion when determining whether income can be treated as income for the purposes of child support.
Florida Law Allows for Imputed Income
In fact, even if a parent is unemployed or underemployed, a Florida court can impute income to a parent if the parent is voluntarily staying unemployed/underemployed. Effectively, then, Florida courts can calculate a parent’s child support obligation based on their employment potential and how much money they should be earning in all probability.
Imagine a scenario where a lawyer who is recently out of work decides to stop working in order to avoid child support. Florida courts don’t want to reward this behavior since it would be detrimental to a child’s best interests, which is why this standard exists.
That said, the court does make an exception for parents who are unemployed or underemployed due to physical or mental illnesses the parent cannot control. In such a scenario, the court will consider both the parent’s work history and job qualifications as well as what a person of similar background or issues would be capable of earning.
Deductions Can Lower Child Support Obligations
Parents can lower their child support obligations based on allowable deductions. In Florida, these deductions are as follows:
- Federal, state and local income tax deductions
- Income tax liabilities
- Union dues
- Required retirement payments
- Payments for health insurance
- Court ordered child support for other children which is actually paid
- Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court
Note that parents are not allowed to deduct costs related to already existing court-ordered child support and/or spousal support.
Once Florida courts have determined a parent’s income and subtract relevant and allowed deductions, the court will then determine the child’s minimum need based on the total net income of both parents.
The Florida Child Support guidelines advise that the court is to calculate a parent’s child support obligation based on how much each parent makes in relation to the combined net monthly income of both parents.
If you have any questions or concerns about how your income may be calculated for child support purposes, contact The McKinney Law Group for a legal consultation.
If you have questions regarding Tampa family law, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]