Florida law provides that all parents have a financial duty to support their children.  This duty becomes very important in disputes between unmarried couples or parents going through a divorce.  It is from this public policy that the concept of child support arises. While most people have heard the phrase, very few understand the true reason why it is Ordered by a Court, how it is calculated, or even what it is supposed to cover.

It is important to first understand that the right to receive financial support does not belong to a parent but the child as it is the child who has the right to be financially supported.  It is also important to understand that child support does not cover anything specific. This means that the party that receives support on behalf of the child is not therefore required to pay for everything related to that child.  Instead, child support is required to be paid so that the receiving parent has the ability to provide the basic needs of the child based on the combined income of the parties.

How is it calculated?  The short answer is that the Florida Legislature has provided a formula found in Florida Statute Chapter 61.13.  Certain numbers that are specific to the parties are plugged into the formula and each party’s financial duty to provide support to the child is then calculated.  The party that is required to pay will then be required to pay their respective share to the receiving party. While there are many numbers that are plugged into the formula, the two most important ones are 1) the parties’ respective monthly incomes; and 2) the number of overnights each party spends with the child. It is therefore easy to see that these two of the most contested issues in Paternity and Divorce cases.  It sounds easy, but figuring (or confirming) a party’s monthly income can be very difficult. Most people are no longer straight salary employees. Even if they are, is support calculated on gross pay or net? Does contributing to an employer held retirement account reduce your monthly income? An experienced Family Law Attorney can help navigate through these concerns.

If you are wondering what your support obligation may be or what you may receive in child support, it is always best to seek professional legal assistance to run through various scenarios.  Many of the “free” online calculators are not updated with the most recent tax information or do not have the ability to include all the other numbers that need to be imputed other than the main two addressed above.  Most importantly, however, it is far too easy to incorrectly calculate a party’s support obligation. Even a slight miscalculation could cost a party hundreds of dollars per month that would not have been necessary had the party sought legal assistance before Child Support was Ordered.  

Bragg Family Law

The Bragg Law Firm understands that typical court-based divorces can be high stress. Call (941) 893-1555 to discuss your options and request more information about whether the collaborative process is right for you and your family.

In Florida Adam Bragg represents clients from Manatee and Sarasota County: Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Palmetto, Longboat Key, Lakewood Ranch, Ellenton, Oneco, Parrish, Bayshore Gardens, Myakka City, Sarasota, North Port, Venice, Englewood, Nokomis, Osprey, Siesta Key, South Venice and Casey Key.