Child Support Guidelines §61.29, Fla. Stat. Part 13 of 18| Divorce Attorney Fort Myers/Cape Coral
61.29, Fla. Stat., provides for child support guidelines principles. These principles do not affect the actual computation of the child support itself, but provide the following:
- Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child.
- The guideline schedule is based on the parents’ combined net incomes estimated to have been allocated to the child as if parents and children were living in an intact household.
- The guidelines encourage fair and efficient settlement of support issues between parents and minimize the need for litigation.
Below please find some general information regarding child support and how it is calculated.
FIRST: The amount may vary plus or minus 5 percent, after considering all relevant factors, including
- The needs of the child
- Station in life
- Standard of living
- Financial status/ability of each parent
SECOND: The amount may vary more than 5 percent only upon a written finding explaining why ordering payment of such guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate. Fla. Stat. 61.30(1)(a); Caudill-Rosa v. Rosa, 136 So.3d 614 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013).
THIRD: The court shall deviate from the guideline amount whenever any of the children are required by court order or mediation agreement to spend substantial amount of time with either parent.
The 61.30(11) (a) Deviation Factors
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, and educational or dental expenses.
- Independent income of the child, not to include money received by child from
supplemental security income.
- If a child is receiving dependent social security benefits (as part of a parent’s income), then those benefits should be offset against that parent’s child support obligation. Valladares v. Junco-Valladares, 30 So.3d 519 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2010). The benefits the child receives as a result of the parent’s disability (SSDI) is included as income of the parent in the child support calculation. But note that if a parent is receiving SSI as a result of the parent’s own disability, that SSI is included in the parent’s gross income for purposes of calculating child support. However, after child support is calculated, the parent receiving SSI is not required to pay out of his or her SSI. Kemper v. Dept. of Revenue o/b/o Kemper, 159 So.3d 303 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015).
- The guidelines provide a specific provision to allow a court to adjust child support based upon the independent income of the child, provided that the independent income is not from the child’s own supplemental security income (versus that received as the child’s portion of a parent’s supplemental security income). Zepeda v. Zepeda, 32 So.3d 679 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010).
- Payment of support for parent.
- Seasonal variations in income/expenses.
- Age of child; older children have greater needs.
- Special needs of child. The court may deviate from guideline support and include the costs of respite care, or alternate child caregiver expenses, for a disabled child. Koslowski v. Koslowski, 78 So.3d 642 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012).
- Total available assets of the parents and child.
- Impact of IRS child and dependent care tax credits, earned income tax credit, and
- The statute lists these tax benefits as a basis for deviation from the guidelines. More accurately, they are factors that go into determination of the appropriate tax deductions for each parent in determining net income.
- While the trial court cannot allocate the federal dependency exemption directly, it may require parents to execute IRS forms permitting the other parent to claim the child’s dependency exemption. El-Hajji v. El-Hajji, 67 So.3d 256 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010).
- A parent’s transfer of the child dependency exemption is conditioned on the payor being current with the child support payments. Williams v. Lutrario, 131 So.3d 801 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013).
- It was error to award the child dependency tax exemption to the Wife when she was not working absent adequate explanation. Williams v. Williams, 39 Fla. L. Weekly 26 D2095 (Fla. 5th DCA Oct. 3, 2014).
- When Guidelines would require Payment of more than 55% of gross income resulting from single court order – A parent should not be required to pay child support according to the Guidelines if the amount of the child support is something that the parent cannot afford. § 61.30(11)(a), Fla. Stat., calls for adjustments and this provision is necessary in some cases to avoid a conflict with the rule of fairness. Accordingly, the Wife’s child support award should be capped at $200.00 per month, with no additional liability for the children’s uncovered medical expenses or private school. Alois v. Alois, 937 So.2d 171 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006).
- If a particular parenting plan provides for a child to spend a significant amount of time, but less than 20% of the overnights, with one parent which reduces the financial expenditures of the other parent, a deviation is in order. How this could factually be applied is a mystery. The only fact pattern that comes to mind is where a child spends all the waking hours with one parent, eating and shopping with that parent, yet sleeps at the other parent’s home, perhaps because of night time employment. This deviation is not to be confused with the 20% threshold for grossing up child support, as addressed below.
Any other adjustment that is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt. Such expense or debt may include, but is not limited to, a reasonable and necessary expense or debt that the parties jointly incurred during the marriage. In Pope v. Langowski, 115 So.3d 1076 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013), this subsection was used as support to remand the case back to the trial court to consider the economic effects of the father’s two other children and the anticipated travel costs for time sharing.
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