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How does the court calculate child support?

Tampa divorce attorneys are constantly asked about how the Court will calculate child support, who has to pay what, how often they have to pay what, and more importantly, how did you get to those numbers? In short, the court uses a somewhat simple calculation to make these determinations. This article will give a general, brief overview of the factors the court considers and the calculations the court makes in its quick analysis and calculation of child support.

First, it is critical to begin with the income of the parties in a child support calculation. This is totally necessary to properly calculate child support.  Inevitably, this raises the issue, what constitutes income? Income includes overtime, bonuses, and any other form of regular monies a parent is bringing in. In our experience, the most effective way to determine overtime is to review what one’s annual overtime hours are, and then average those out over the course of a year. This is especially critical in cases involving folks who work some sort of seasonal employment, where they have a tremendous amount of overtime in certain months, then nearly no overtime in others. This also goes for bonuses, which are not regular, and are based on some sort of other factor, such as performance, sales, etc.  Our Office has handled a number of these unique issues relating to the calculation of child support.

The second consideration for the court determining child support is whether each party enjoys substantial time-sharing with the minor child. The easiest way to think of this is that a party who is enjoying 50-50 custody with the other parent should essentially be supporting the minor child through their own finances 50% of the time. In short, this is a wholly mathematical determination, which we discuss elsewhere in our Tampa divorce attorney blog, which we invite you to explore.

Next, the court will take into consideration costs, which in our experience; we deem “other costs” from parents for children. This includes the cost of uncovered medical expenses, day care, health insurance, and in some situations, other costs based on the unique circumstances of the case. Again, the rationale behind this is that a parent paying $300 a month for health insurance for a minor child, they should receive some sort of reward or credit in one’s child support guidelines and calculations. In our experience, the easiest way to think of this is a teeter-totter, as one continues to pay these other costs for uncovered medical expenses or day care expenses, the teeter-totter re-adjusts itself, putting more of a financial onus and burden on the other party.

Ultimately, once the combined incomes of the parties are calculated, the Florida Legislature has provided a child support amount that should be expected each month, given the number of children between the parents. This is the classic grid formula that everyone who has done any calculation of child support has reviewed online through a variety of websites, this one included. This grid only gives the monthly amount the Legislature thought was an appropriate monthly support amount, then the court must make the determination based on the incomes of the parties as to which percentage of that amount each party is responsible for.

If you or someone you know has questions concerning calculations of child support, in their Tampa divorce or family law case, contact the Tampa divorce attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.  For your convenience, we have attached a link to a mock child support calculator.   We’ve handled hundreds of family law matters in the Tampa Bay area, and look forward to working with you to ensure your rights are protected. If you would like to contact one of our Tampa divorce attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” in the upper right hand corner of our website.  We appreciate your time in checking out our blog and we look forward to hearing from you.