The most common question I am asked during an initial divorce interview (where the parties have minor children) is, “What will I owe in child support?” or “What will my spouse owe me in child support?”
Although I cannot respond to this question with a simple one sentence answer, I can answer some more specific, yet common child support related issues (over a series of articles) which will help my clients understand the factors that the Court considers when determining child support obligations.
Common Issue #1
In many cases, one spouse will under-estimate his/her income. This commonly occurs in situations where one spouse is: (1) a non-W2 employee; (2) self employed; and/or (3) receives payments in cash.
To help resolve this income-related dispute, the Court, considers the factors laid out in Florida Statute 61.30 (2)(a)(1).
What constitutes income for the calculation of Child Support?
- Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following
- Salary or wages
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips & other similar payments
- Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, & 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 & dividends
- Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary & 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
Furthermore, in the discovery process, both parties are required to disclose their complete and accurate financial picture (including 1040s and 1120s) – also called “mandatory disclosure”.
Common Issue #2
In some cases, one spouse will choose not to work or accept a lower paying job, believing that it will affect the amount of money they (pay) or receive in child support payments.
Will the Court impute income to the underemployed or underemployed spouse?
Monthly income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed spouse if the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary.
Upon a finding that the spouse is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, their earnings shall be imputed based upon recent work history, occupational qualifications and prevailing earnings in the community, if available.
Stated another way, a doctor cannot voluntarily choose to quit his/her practice to work as a high school teacher to avoid the payment of child support.
The Court would consider the doctor’s earnings based his/her recent work history, degrees (such as board certified), and the prevailing earnings for other doctors in the community.
Common Issue #3
Oftentimes, parties have a misunderstanding on how child support is calculated.
Is Child Support calculated by statutory guidelines?
Yes. Child support is a factor of both:
- The combined monthly net income of the parties
- The number of (minor) children
The higher the parties’ combined net income – the more the parties pay in child support. The more children – the more the parties pay in child support.
Here are some examples (one child):
If the parties combined monthly net income is $4,000.00. The parties’ responsibility would be $828.00.
If the parties combined monthly net income is $5,000.00. The parties’ responsibility would be $1,000.00.
Here are some examples (two children):
If the parties combined monthly net income is $4,000.00. The parties’ responsibility would be $1,288.00.
If the parties combined monthly net income is $5,000.00. The parties’ responsibility would be $1,551.00.
Here are some examples (three children):
If the parties combined monthly net income is $4,000.00. The parties’ responsibility would be $1,603.00.
If the parties combined monthly net income is $5,000.00. The parties’ responsibility would be $1,939.00.
Do you have more child support questions?
If you have minor children and are considering filing for divorce in Broward County (including Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Coral Springs, Parkland, Davie, Cooper City, Pembroke Pines or Oakland Park) you should speak with an experienced family law attorney familiar with child support obligations in Florida.
The divorce attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin offer consultations free of charge. Call us now at 954.462.8035.