Calculating Child Support: How Much and for How Long?


Attorney, Michel L. Watson, Esq.


Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her child. Child support is the court-ordered obligation for the financial responsibility for a child’s care, maintenance, education, and training. Parents cannot waive child support obligations.

Florida has a table of child support guidelines based on the monthly income of the parties, number of children, and the number of overnights with each parent

Because the guidelines are based on monthly amounts, it may be necessary to convert some income and expense figures from other frequencies to monthly.  You should do this as follows:

If payment is twice per month                  Payment amount             x      2       =             Monthly amount

If payment is every two weeks                 Payment amount             x      26     =          Yearly amount due

Yearly amount                  ÷     12     =          Monthly amount

If payment is weekly                                   Weekly amount                x      52     =          Yearly amount due

Yearly amount                  ÷     12     =          Monthly amount

Child support is calculated based on the income of both parents, subject to certain deductions including health insurance, daycare, and taxes.  In limited circumstances, the Court may deviate from the child support guidelines.

Financial Affidavit

Whether in a divorce case, paternity, or child support enforcement through the Department of Revenue, parties are required to complete a financial affidavit and file it with the court.

A parent’s willful failure to file a Financial Affidavit, unemployment, or underemployment may result in the court imputing income to a parent; that is, the court can treat the parent as if they are employed if the parent experienced a voluntary loss of income.  The court’s imputation of income assures fairness among the parents and punishes dishonest parties, including those who may be hiding income. 

Calculating Income for Child Support

The court uses the combined net incomes of the parties to determine child support, accounting for any applicable deductions, then calculates the number of overnights. Gross income is the amount you earn prior to any deductions. Net income is the amount after all applicable deductions.

Deductions from gross income can be for:

1.     Federal, state, and local taxes;

2.     Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax;

3.     Mandatory union dues;

4.     Mandatory retirement payments;

5.     Health insurance payments (except those that go toward coverage for the child or children);

6.     Court-ordered child support for other children; and

7.     Spousal support that is paid because of a previous marriage or that has been ordered as part of the present divorce proceeding.

After the applicable deductions, the net income amount is determined, and the combined net incomes of the parents are used to determine the amount available for child support for the minor child or children eligible for support.

Determining the Amount of Child Support

The payment of child support alone does not entitle a parent to timesharing. The amount and duration of child support will vary based on a several factors in addition to the net incomes of the parties such as the number of children, number of overnight stays, and the specific medical, educational, and dental needs of the child.

Generally support will be ordered unless both parents earn about the same income and have the same amount of timesharing, usually 50/50.

How Long Will You Have to Pay Child Support

Absent special circumstances, child support payments continue until the child’s 18th birthday. However, if the child is still in high school, attending full time and expected to graduate at age 19, payments will continue until the child graduates high school.  Child support may also be terminated if the child becomes emancipated.

Get Started Now

If you are looking to establish child support, enforce a child support order, modify a child support order, contact Michel Watson Law to develop a course of action for your case.