Child support, also known as child maintenance, is an ongoing, periodic payment made by the higher income parent to the lower income parent, or a third party such as a caregiver, guardian, or state, for the financial benefit of a child, after a divorce or relationship termination between the parents. In Florida, child support is established by the courts following the Florida child support guidelines. A comprehensive child support guidelines chart is published in Florida Statutes §61.30
Most people believe that child support must go straight to the child or children. However, child support is intended to cover a broad range of expenses associated with the basic necessities of raising a child. Such expenses can include living expenses, food and clothing, education, health care, and any other expenses related directly the child or children.
Each parent has a duty and obligation to provide for the basic needs of their children. Therefore, the basic child support amount is established by combining the parents’ net income. Before the parties’ net income can be established, gross income has to be determined. Gross income shall include but is not limited to, the following:
- Salary or wages.
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
- Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
- Disability benefits.
- All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements.
- Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation.
- Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
- Social security benefits.
- Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
- Interest and dividends.
- Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
- Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
- Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
- Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
Child support is not tax deductible. However, if a parent has a child support order for a preexisting child, the parent can subtract that child support amount from his or her gross income in order determine child support for a subsequent child. Other allowable deductions to determine a parent’s net income are:
- Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
- Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
- Mandatory union dues.
- Mandatory retirement payments.
- Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
- Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
- Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.
Sometimes, the payor parent (obligor) refuses to pay the much needed support, and the receiving parent (obligee) must take the case to court or state agencies for help in collecting payments. If you need assistance with making or receiving child support payments, please call us at (954) 920-9220.
At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this particular situation in their own lives. Every situation is different, so the judge may consider other factors in your child support responsibilities. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.