Child Support Guidelines §61.29, Fla. Stat. Part 2 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:
  1. Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

In General

  1. Findings are required

Child support awards must be based on competent, substantial evidence of a party’s net income.” Hoffman v. Hoffman, 98 So.3d 196, 197 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012)

A. Income

  • Trial court is required to make findings of fact regarding the incomes of each parent. Without such findings, the final judgment awarding child support is facially erroneous. Warren v.  Warren, 84 So.3d 461 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012).

B. Imputation of Income

  • In order to impute income for purposes of calculating child support, the trial court must perform a two- step analysis:
    • Step 1: A finding that the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary.
    • Step 2: Trial court must determine if subsequent unemployment or underemployment resulted from spouse’s pursuit of own interests or through less than diligent efforts to find employment at equal or better level than formerly received.
    • Must have findings as to recent work history, occupational qualifications or prevailing earnings in the community.
      • Reliance based on past work history alone not enough. Thompson v. Malicki, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D1593a (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015)
      • evidence did not support income as not based on competent substantial evidence. Brummer v. Brummer, 39 Fla. L.Weekly D2570a (Fla. 5th DCA 2014).

C. Arrearages

  • How the court computed arrears and these findings must be in the final judgment.

D. Ability to Pay

 E. Modification (reduction) of Prior Administrative Support Order

 F. Social Security

  • Include the amount of child support owed prior to applying child’s derivative social security benefit (the amount of social security benefits received for a child as a result of a parent’s disability) in Final Judgment. Dep’t of Revenue ex rel Jenkins v. Porter, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D717a (Fla. 2nd DCA 2014)
    • Calculate the monthly child support obligation, explicitly included that amount in the final judgment, and then apply the derivative benefits to reduce or pay that obligation.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a disability benefit. SSI is included in gross income of parent for child support calculations. Kemper v. Dept of Revenue obo Kemper, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D602a, 159 So.3d 303 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015)

G. Life Insurance

  • Error to award life insurance without making findings as to necessity, cost and availability. Broga v. Broga, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D867a (Fla. 1st DCA 2015).

H. Private School

  • Court cannot order a parent to contribute to private school expenses for minor child unless it first finds that: (1) the parties have the ability to pay such expenses, (2) the expenses are in accordance with the customary standard of living of the parties, and (3) attendance at private school is in the child’s best interest. Musser v. Watkins, 752 So.2d 141, 142 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2000).

For more information please contact us to schedule your consultation.

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