Does Florida Place a Cap on Child Support?
In Florida, courts calculate child support based on the Income Shares Model, which involves the application of specific guidelines and that take into account both parties’ incomes and deductions. The parents’ time sharing arrangement, which is based on the amount of time that the child spends with each parent, also factors into the calculation. While there is no actual cap on how much a person can be ordered to pay in child support, the use of the Income Shares Model ensures that a parent’s child support obligation will never exceed his or her ability to pay. However, determining how much a parent will be required to pay in support can remain a complex process, making it especially important for those who are grappling with these types of issues, to contact an experienced child support lawyer who can advise them.
Florida’s Child Support Guidelines
The formula used in Florida’s child support guidelines begins with a calculation of a base support amount, which in turn, requires an assessment of:
- The number of children that require support;
- Each parent’s income, including salary, wages, bonuses, rental income, and benefits;
- All applicable deductions, including income tax; and
- The parent’s custody plan.
Once this base amount has been calculated, the court will assess each party’s pro rata childcare costs, including health insurance expenses and out-of-pocket medical expenses, as well as daycare and after school costs before issuing an award.
Is There a Cap on Child Support?
The Income Shares Model formula ensures that a person’s child support obligation will not exceed what he or she can actually pay. Thus, there is technically no maximum amount of child support in Florida. Instead, the parties will be required to pay an amount that supports the standard of living enjoyed by the family prior to divorce and is fair based on both parties’ incomes, as well as their degree of responsibility in providing childcare. It is important to note, however, that courts do retain some discretion when it comes to deviating from the state’s support guidelines. For instance, courts can generally vary within five percent of the award generated by the guidelines.
Modifying Child Support
Courts are also willing to amend child support orders in cases where a person loses his or her job, begins suffering from health problems, or has a child with changing needs that bars him or her from making payments as ordered. In these cases, courts will modify an amount to reflect a person’s new financial status, but only if that individual can prove that he or she experienced a substantial and involuntary change in circumstances. This burden will only be met if the amount provided for under the state guidelines is at least 15 percent different or $50 a month, whichever is greater, from the previous award.
Florida Child Support Attorney
While the child support formula used in Florida is relatively straightforward, determining how much a person owes in financial support can be complicated. Please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 for help with your own child support-related matter.