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How is child support calculated in divorce?

One issue that often gets overlooked during divorce is child support. All too often, bickering parents expect for the courts to take their side and award them the amount they feel they deserve in child support, not realizing there are specific factors taken into consideration. 

Divorce does not sever parental responsibilities unless there is a need to. Child support is a monetary award that requires the other parent to contribute financially to the care and support of her or his children. Calculating child support is not always easy and is usually quite complex. It is essential for you to understand the basics to avoid surprises when the courts rule on your divorce case. 

What criteria do the courts use to establish a child support amount? 

Divorce courts in Florida use an Income Shares Guideline to determine how much, if any, support is necessary for children to continue to enjoy a life similar to one they would have had if their parents were still married. Key considerations include: 

  • Parental income
  • Childcare expenses
  • Education expenses
  • Healthcare costs
  • Parental expenses
  • Parenting time
  • Financial needs of the child 

Because of the variety of factors unique in each family law and child custody case, one of the most significant determining factors involves the amount of actual time, effort and financial contributions each parent provides to ensure taking care of the child’s needs and best interests. Although similarities exist between divorce cases, child support awards are unique to each family. 

For example, you may be the higher-earning spouse and expect to receive a child support order of a large amount. However, if you have sole custody of your children, your ex-spouse would most likely end up with a child support judgment against him or her. But, if you share custody, it is just as likely that you could end up having to pay the other parent child support to help level the playing field and minimize the impact of the separation on your children.

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