Every child under the age of 18 in the state of Florida is entitled to ongoing financial support from both parents. Sometimes, parents who split up can continue to meet their child’s financial needs together (this is known as child support).

But when one parent does not consistently provide that assistance, the other parent can file for child support by applying through the Florida Department of Revenue’s Office of Child Support Enforcement. Applications can be made in person at your nearest office or you may call to have an application mailed to your address.

How Do I Calculate My Child Support Obligation in Florida?

Florida, like many states, use an income shares model in determining the amount of child support owed. An income shares model begins the calculation by determining each parent’s net income and adding the two incomes together.

This amount should, or at least attempts to, reflect the what the parents would have spent on child support if they remained together under the same roof. The total net income of both parents is then divided based on the proportion of each parent’s income contribution to determine how much each parent owes per month.

In a divorce proceeding or an active child support petition, the court may require each parent to submit a financial affidavit so that the court can determine each parent’s duty to pay. Another factor the court may use to determine the amount of child support due is whether custody or time spent with the child is similar for each parent as in a shared custody plan or if the child primarily resides with one parent.

What are the Expenses I Can Deduct to Determine My Net Income for Child Support in Florida?

Net income is the income you have after qualifying deductions. For child support, a parent can usually deduct the following expenses from their total or gross income to reach their net income:

  • Federal income tax;
  • State income tax; 
    • Florida does not have state income tax but for parents that reside outside the state of Florida but have a minor child residing in Florida may be able to deduct their state income taxes elsewhere if they reside outside of Florida.
  • Social security withholdings or payments;
  • Mandatory retirement contributions; 
    • Ones that are required by an employer or by law. Voluntary contributions are not considered.
  • Health insurance premiums for yourself and all dependents;
  • Prior or other court ordered child and spousal support obligations that were actually paid; and
  • Other expenditures that are required to generate income.

Is there a Calculator that can Help Me Estimate My Child Support Obligation?

Yes. The Florida Office of Child Support Enforcement provides an online calculator that parents can use to estimate their future child support order. This calculator is set up to consider basic child expenses.

However, if your child or family has unusual circumstances, other factors may increase or decrease your child support obligation than what the calculator determined.

Can a Child Support Order Be Changed?

No, child support orders can be modified by the court. However, once a court orders child support it is important to continue to make all payments on time until the modification is ordered by a judge.

Failing to do so can result in wage garnishment and bank levies against the parent who failed to comply. Also, the child support owed will continue to accrue and the parent may have to pay that balance in addition to their regular ongoing child support payments.

How Can I Change My Child Support Calculation in Florida?

If you cannot pay the current amount of child support owed or you believe it should be decreased, you can file a motion to modify. Modifications are permitted when there has been a substantial change in circumstances for either parent or for the child’s needs. 

Should I Consult a Lawyer About Calculating My Child Support in Florida?

A family lawyer can be helpful in determining your exact child support obligation. They can also explain what factors are most important in your local court. Having a lawyer represent you in a child support matter can help secure a fair child support order.

If you are considering filing a modification to your current child support order, a lawyer may be able to help you determine whether your circumstances meet a substantial change.