All states now rely on a series of guidelines to assist the court in determining how much child support to order and to whom. These guidelines are updated periodically to adjust for economic reality and changes in the law. This post will go over the latest iteration of the Florida guidelines and explain how they work.
Florida guidelines include a worksheet that anyone can use to estimate their child support. You can submit completed worksheets (with attached supporting documents) to the court to substantiate your position but know that the court will conduct its analysis. Remember, the court always does what is in the best interests of the child, especially regarding child support.
Courts may also deviate from the guidelines, but the judge must outline why she believes a deviation is necessary and support it with arguments and facts.
The sheet includes spaces for incomes including salary, wages, employee benefits, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, pensions, retirement and just about every other source of income you can imagine. The guidelines must account for all of your income to ensure the support orders are accurate.
The sheet then allows you to input deductions such as taxes, union dues, insurance, mandatory retirement, health insurance, and other child support orders. You may not deduct things like food, rent, and other expenses.
The worksheet then divides the income by each parent's total share of it (i.e. the amount they earned).
If you are engaged in a child support dispute, then you may want to consult with an attorney to review your options. A lawyer can help you prepare your arguments for the court to ensure that you pay your fair share of child support. Caring for a child is a shared burden, it shouldn't be all on you.