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Understanding Florida’s statutory child support guidelines

Parents’ obligations to provide financially for their children do not end when they split up from one another. Child support paid from one parent to another helps to cover the many expenses involved in childrearing.

To ensure that parents receive enough support to provide adequately for their children, the Florida state legislature has set guidelines. The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability explains the factors that determine statutory child support guidelines in Florida.

What are the primary factors behind statutory child support guidelines?

When determining how much a parent has to pay for child support, the Florida state legislature has identified two factors as being the most important. The first is the combined net income of the two parents. According to the guidelines, the judge making the determination should add together the income that both parents earn and then subtract taxes.

The second primary factor that forms the basis of child support guidelines is the number of minor children that a parent has to support. These may be children of different partners.

What other factors go into consideration?

Under statutory child support guidelines in Florida, judges can take other factors into consideration when determining child support. For example, the judge can consider whether the parent to pay child support has substantial parenting time, defined as at least 20% of overnights with the children annually. The judge may also take specific costs into consideration, including child care, education and health care.

Research shows that child support follows statutory guidelines in a vast majority of cases. The Department of Revenue or the court can order a child support amount that deviates from the guidelines if the guideline amount would be inappropriate or unjust.

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