Child Support Guidelines §61.29, Fla. Stat. Part 6 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.
What Constitutes Income for Calculation of Child Support?
- Salary or Wages
- In setting child support, if bonuses are regular and continuous, it is an abuse of discretion to exclude them from consideration when making a child support award. Parry v. Parry, 933 So.2d 9 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2006).
- the trial court should modify the payment schedule for alimony and child support so that they coincide with receipt of bonus income. Coyne v. Coyne, 505 So.2d 1115 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1987)
- The trial court was required to include bonus income in its calculations for child support, even though the bonuses were discretionary with the employer and based upon gross profits. Drew v. Drew, 27 So.3d 802 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010).
- Income attributable to regular overtime being paid to a parent should be included for purposes of computing child support under the child support guidelines. Butler v. Brewster, 629 So.2d 1092 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994)
- the trial court must take into consideration actual overtime pay and any actual income earned from part-time employment at secondary jobs, as well as any child support payments that he actually made. Martinez v. Abinader, 37 So.3d 944 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010).
- In the event of subsequent children, when considering an upward modification of an existing award, the court may disregard income from secondary employment if the court determines that the employment was obtained primarily to support subsequent children. §61.30(12)(a), Fla. Stat.
- Gift Income
- Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
- Gift income should not be imputed to a party because his or her parents gave money to help make ends meet. Rogers v. Rogers, 824 So.2d 902, 903 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2002).
- Where a parent has for the past several years received substantial gifts of money from their parent, these payments should be taken into account as part of the income for child support guideline purposes. 61.30(2)(a)13.
- However, some cases hold that gifts should not be imputed to a parent because future gifts may be withheld and dealing with the future is purely speculative. Rogers v. Rogers, 824 So.2d 902 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2002).
- Annual gifts to the former husband from his mother to pay for children’s tuition should not have been included in his income for purposes of calculating child support. Although the trial court reasoned that these gifts would continue, the appellate court reached a different conclusion regarding inclusion of the gifts in the former husband’s income. Palumbo v. Butler, 26 So.3d 723 (Fla. 2nd DCA, 2010).
- Business Income
- 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. § 61.30(2)(a)3
- In considering all of the pass-through chapter S business income as being available personally to a spouse, the court must not look only at the balance sheet of the corporation. The court must consider cash that is actually retained as working capital to maintain the business operation and to pay current liabilities. Specific findings of fact must be made by the court as to the amount of income available to a parent for purposes of support, or alternatively, evidence that the corporation has delayed distribution to the shareholder/parent for purposes other than legitimate corporate expenses or future investment. The burden is on the shareholder/parent to show whether undistributed pass-through income has been properly retained for corporate purposes rather than impermissibly retained to avoid child support obligations. To determine whether the shareholder-spouse has met his burden, the trial court must consider (1) the extent to which a shareholder-spouse has access or control over “pass through” income retained by the corporation, (2) the limitation set forth in Section 607.064013 governing corporate distributions to shareholders, and (3) the purposes for which the “pass through” income has been retained by the corporation. Zold v. Zold, 911 So.2d 1222 (Fla.2005).
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