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Deviating From Florida’s Child Support Guidelines


In Florida, how much a parent must pay in child support is partly based on a predetermined set of child support guidelines. This framework uses a variety of factors to help couples calculate their child support obligations and while judges are usually required to strictly adhere to these guidelines, it is possible in some cases to deviate from them.

Calculating Child Support 

To calculate child support in Florida, courts look to a few main factors, including:

  • Each parent’s income;
  • The family’s time-sharing schedule;
  • The family’s childcare costs; and
  • Health insurance costs.

Basically, parents pay child support based on their ability to pay, as well as the child’s needs. This in turn, will require a careful analysis of the parents’ incomes, which could include not only wages and salaries, but tips and bonuses. Investment and retirement income, commissions, government benefits, and rental income could also all qualify as income for this purpose. The Florida child support guidelines use parents’ net incomes, as well as the number of children being supported to come up with an amount of child support that must be paid. In most cases, judges adhere strictly to what these guidelines dictate.

Deviating from the Guidelines 

Florida family law courts are allowed to deviate from the state’s child support guidelines by as  much as five percent below or above what the guidelines dictate, but only if the judge believes that the particular circumstances of a case warrant it. In fact, courts can even exceed the five percent limit, but must state the grounds for doing so in the final court order. Parents can also ask a judge to deviate from the guidelines by filing a motion with the court with an explanation for the request. In most cases, a judge will only consider such a request when:

  • The child in question has special needs that require additional expenses;
  • A time-sharing schedule requires higher travel costs for one parent;
  • The amount dictated by the guidelines requires a parent to pay more than half of his or her income in child support;
  • The child receives public benefits;
  • One or both parents earn seasonal income;
  • The receiving parent has an income that is too low to maintain a home and basic necessities; or
  • The recipient or payor has sufficient assets to warrant a deviation.

Once a child support order is signed and issued, a parent can only ask the court to reconsider the child support award and deviate from the state’s guidelines by submitting a motion for modification.

Call Today to Set Up a Free Consultation 

Working with an experienced Florida child support lawyer will give you and your family a better chance of receiving the relief you request from the court. For more information about the state’s child support calculations and guidelines, feel free to call dedicated Fort Lauderdale child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today. You can also set up a free consultation with a member of our legal team by sending us an online message.


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