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Child Support Calculation — Guidelines and Example

Child support is money paid by one spouse to the other for the support of their children.  The amount of child support awarded is in accordance with the child support guidelines (Florida Statute 61.30), which take into account the combined net income of the parents and the number of children.  Factored into the final award is also the financial ability of the parents to pay the determined amount of child support.

Included in the child support guidelines is a schedule that is used to determine the child support need, according to the number of children that parents may have, ranging from 1 to 6.  The other component to the schedule is the parent’s combined monthly net income, ranging from $800 to $10,000.  For illustration purposes and to work on a hypothetical example, below, is a section of the schedule as it appears in the guidelines:

Monthly Net Income

One
Child

Two Children

Three Children

Four Children

Five Children

Six Children

$5,900

$1,111

$1,721

$2,155

$2,429

$2,651

$2,833

$5,950

$1,116

$1,729

$2,165

$2,440

$2,663

$2,847

$6,000

$1,121

$1,737

$2,175

$2,451

$2,676

$2,860

$6,050

$1,126

$1,746

$2,185

$2,462

$2,688

$2,874

$6,100

$1,131

$1,754

$2,196

$2,473

$2,700

$2,887

There are many child support calculators available on the Internet, most of which do a good job of calculating the basic figure.  But as you will see below, under certain circumstances, these figures can be adjusted.  Regardless, it’s a good idea to understand the “math” in order to arrive at the child support number for your particular situation.

Our example is that of hypothetical divorcing parents, Tom and Mary.  For the purposes of calculating the child support need, all the relevant information is as follows:

Annual Gross Income

Annual Net Income

Monthly Net Income

Combined Monthly Income

Children

Tom

$70,000

$48,000

$4,000

$6,000

3

Mary

$30,000

$24,000

$2,000

From the schedule, based on the combined monthly income and number of children, the monthly child support need is $2,175.  Now, we need to calculate the portion that belongs to each parent.

To calculate each parent’s monthly child support responsibility, first we determine Tom’s percentage of the combined monthly net income:

This means that Tom is responsible for 66.67% of the established monthly child support need of $2,175.  This amount comes to $1,450.07 (i.e., $2,175 x 66.67%).  In turn, Mary’s responsibility is the difference between the established monthly child support need and Tom’s responsibility, or $724.93 (i.e., $2,175 – $1,450.07).

In this example, it’s assumed that Tom and Mary equally share custody of the children.  If, however, one parent has the children, say 20% more of the time then the other parent, then these figures would be adjusted accordingly.

It’s important to note that guidelines allow for the child support need to be modified (+/- 5%) from the guideline amounts, after considering all relevant factors, including:

  • The needs of the children, their age, station in life and standard of living.
  • The financial status and ability of each parent.

Furthermore, the child support need determined by the schedule can be adjusted for the following reasons, among others:

  • Extraordinary expenses of a child, such as for medical, psychological or educational reasons.
  • Expenses due to a disability.
  • The age of the children, since older children have greater needs.
  • Total assets of the parents and the children.
  • Childcare costs.
  • Cost of healthcare for the children.

Child support is always modifiable based on substantial changes in the circumstances upon which the original child support need was calculated.