A child support order tells parents what they must do to support their children. In Florida, the amount of child support is based on guidelines in Florida law. Child support guidelines are the standards used to figure out the financial support a child needs and the amount each parent must pay. Guidelines help make sure support amounts are fair and just.
The Florida guidelines are used the first time child support is ordered. The guidelines are also used to review the child support order to see if the support amount should be modified based on changing circumstances of the parents.
In Florida, the child support guidelines consider, among other factors:
- The income of both parents
- The child’s health care, education, and child care costs
- The standard needs for the child
- Special needs the child may have based on a disability
Suggested support amounts based on the child’s age and net income of the parents can be found in the Florida law standard needs table.
Under Florida law, the court or agency establishing support must use these guidelines to determine the amount of child support that is included in a Florida support order. In special circumstances, support amounts can be higher or lower than the guideline amounts. For example, a judge may consider a child’s high medical or educational expenses as a reason to change the support amount. However, if the amount ordered varies more than five percent from the guidelines, the judge must give written reasons regarding why the guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate.
If you are considering a divorce, you can obtain an estimate of child support amounts by using the Florida Child Support calculator. The calculator takes the information you provide and gives you an estimate of your child’s support amount. This estimate is for informational purposes only. A court or agency may look at the other factors mentioned above to determine the true amount of child support that may be owed. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney to obtain the best advice to protect you and your children.