2004 Florida Statutes
Child support guidelines; retroactive child support.
(1)(a) The child support guideline amount as determined by this section presumptively establishes the amount the trier of fact shall order as child support in an initial proceeding for such support or in a proceeding for modification of an existing order for such support, whether the proceeding arises under this or another chapter. The trier of fact may order payment of child support which varies, plus or minus 5 percent, from the guideline amount, after considering all relevant factors, including the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. The trier of fact may order payment of child support in an amount which varies more than 5 percent from such guideline amount only upon a written finding explaining why ordering payment of such guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate. Notwithstanding the variance limitations of this section, the trier of fact shall order payment of child support which varies from the guideline amount as provided in paragraph (11)(b) whenever any of the children are required by court order or mediation agreement to spend a substantial amount of time with the primary and secondary residential parents. This requirement applies to any living arrangement, whether temporary or permanent.
(b) The guidelines may provide the basis for proving a substantial change in circumstances upon which a modification of an existing order may be granted. However, the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines shall be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater, before the court may find that the guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances.
(c) For each support order reviewed by the department as required by s. 409.2564(12), if the amount of the child support award under the order differs by at least 10 percent but not less than $25 from the amount that would be awarded under s. 61.30, the department shall seek to have the order modified and any modification shall be made without a requirement for proof or showing of a change in circumstances.
(2) Income shall be determined on a monthly basis for the obligor and for the obligee as follows:
(a) Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following items:
1. Salary or wages.
2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
3. 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.
4. Disability benefits.
5. All workers' compensation benefits and settlements.
6. Unemployment compensation.
7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
8. Social security benefits.
9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
10. Interest and dividends.
11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
12. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
(b) Income on a monthly basis shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent when such employment or underemployment is found to be voluntary on that parent's part, absent physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control. In the event of such voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the employment potential and probable earnings level of the parent shall be determined based upon his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community; however, the court may refuse to impute income to a primary residential parent if the court finds it necessary for the parent to stay home with the child.
(c) Public assistance as defined in s. 409.2554 shall be excluded from gross income.
(3) Allowable deductions from gross income shall include:
(a) Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
(b) Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
(c) Mandatory union dues.
(d) Mandatory retirement payments.
(e) Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
(f) Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
(g) Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.
(4) Net income for the obligor and net income for the obligee shall be computed by subtracting allowable deductions from gross income.
(5) Net income for the obligor and net income for the obligee shall be added together for a combined net income.
(6) The following schedules shall be applied to the combined net income to determine the minimum child support need:
|Combined Monthly Available Income||Child or Children|
For combined monthly available income less than the amount set out on the above schedules, the parent should be ordered to pay a child support amount, determined on a case-by-case basis, to establish the principle of payment and lay the basis for increased orders should the parent's income increase in the future. For combined monthly available income greater than the amount set out in the above schedules, the obligation shall be the minimum amount of support provided by the guidelines plus the following percentages multiplied by the amount of income over $10,000:
|Child or Children|
(7) Child care costs incurred on behalf of the children due to employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or to enhance income of current employment of either parent shall be reduced by 25 percent and then shall be added to the basic obligation. After the adjusted child care costs are added to the basic obligation, any moneys prepaid by the noncustodial parent for child care costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that noncustodial parent's child support obligation for that child or those children. Child care costs shall not exceed the level required to provide quality care from a licensed source for the children.
(8) Health insurance costs resulting from coverage ordered pursuant to s. 61.13(1)(b), and any noncovered medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses of the child, shall be added to the basic obligation unless these expenses have been ordered to be separately paid on a percentage basis. After the health insurance costs are added to the basic obligation, any moneys prepaid by the noncustodial parent for health-related costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that noncustodial parent's child support obligation for that child or those children.
(9) Each parent's percentage share of the child support need shall be determined by dividing each parent's net income by the combined net income.
(10) Each parent's actual dollar share of the child support need shall be determined by multiplying the minimum child support need by each parent's percentage share.
(11)(a) The court may adjust the minimum child support award, or either or both parents' share of the minimum child support award, based upon the following considerations:
1. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
2. Independent income of the child, not to include moneys received by a child from supplemental security income.
3. The payment of support for a parent which regularly has been paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
4. Seasonal variations in one or both parents' incomes or expenses.
5. The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
6. Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though the fulfilling of those needs will cause the support to exceed the proposed guidelines.
7. Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.
8. The impact of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order the primary residential parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the noncustodial parent is current in support payments.
9. When application of the child support guidelines requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order.
10. The particular shared parental arrangement, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 40 percent of the overnights, with the noncustodial parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the primary residential parent; or the refusal of the noncustodial parent to become involved in the activities of the child.
11. Any other adjustment which 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 which the parties jointly incurred during the marriage.
(b) Whenever a particular shared parental arrangement provides that each child spend a substantial amount of time with each parent, the court shall adjust any award of child support, as follows:
1. In accordance with subsections (9) and (10), calculate the amount of support obligation apportioned to the noncustodial parent without including day care and health insurance costs in the calculation and multiply the amount by 1.5.
2. In accordance with subsections (9) and (10), calculate the amount of support obligation apportioned to the custodial parent without including day care and health insurance costs in the calculation and multiply the amount by 1.5.
3. Calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child spends with each parent.
4. Multiply the noncustodial parent's support obligation as calculated in subparagraph 1. by the percentage of the custodial parent's overnight stays with the child as calculated in subparagraph 3.
5. Multiply the custodial parent's support obligation as calculated in subparagraph 2. by the percentage of the noncustodial parent's overnight stays with the child as calculated in subparagraph 3.
6. The difference between the amounts calculated in subparagraphs 4. and 5. shall be the monetary transfer necessary between the custodial and noncustodial parents for the care of the child, subject to an adjustment for day care and health insurance expenses.
7. Pursuant to subsections (7) and (8), calculate the net amounts owed by the custodial and noncustodial parents for the expenses incurred for day care and health insurance coverage for the child. Day care shall be calculated without regard to the 25-percent reduction applied by subsection (7).
8. Adjust the support obligation owed by the custodial or noncustodial parent pursuant to subparagraph 6. by crediting or debiting the amount calculated in subparagraph 7. This amount represents the child support which must be exchanged between the custodial and noncustodial parents.
9. The court may deviate from the child support amount calculated pursuant to subparagraph 8. based upon the considerations set forth in paragraph (a), as well as the custodial parent's low income and ability to maintain the basic necessities of the home for the child, the likelihood that the noncustodial parent will actually exercise the visitation granted by the court, and whether all of the children are exercising the same shared parental arrangement.
10. For purposes of adjusting any award of child support under this paragraph, "substantial amount of time" means that the noncustodial parent exercises visitation at least 40 percent of the overnights of the year.
(c) A noncustodial parent's failure to regularly exercise court-ordered or agreed visitation not caused by the custodial parent which resulted in the adjustment of the amount of child support pursuant to subparagraph (a)10. or paragraph (b) shall be deemed a substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying the child support award. A modification pursuant to this paragraph shall be retroactive to the date the noncustodial parent first failed to regularly exercise court-ordered or agreed visitation.
(12)(a) A parent with a support obligation may have other children living with him or her who were born or adopted after the support obligation arose. If such subsequent children exist, the court, when considering an upward modification of an existing award, may disregard the income from secondary employment obtained in addition to the parent's primary employment if the court determines that the employment was obtained primarily to support the subsequent children.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a), the existence of such subsequent children should not as a general rule be considered by the court as a basis for disregarding the amount provided in the guidelines. The parent with a support obligation for subsequent children may raise the existence of such subsequent children as a justification for deviation from the guidelines. However, if the existence of such subsequent children is raised, the income of the other parent of the subsequent children shall be considered by the court in determining whether or not there is a basis for deviation from the guideline amount.
(c) The issue of subsequent children under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) may only be raised in a proceeding for an upward modification of an existing award and may not be applied to justify a decrease in an existing award.
(13) If the recurring income is not sufficient to meet the needs of the child, the court may order child support to be paid from nonrecurring income or assets.
(14) Every petition for child support or for modification of child support shall be accompanied by an affidavit which shows the party's income, allowable deductions, and net income computed in accordance with this section. The affidavit shall be served at the same time that the petition is served. The respondent, whether or not a stipulation is entered, shall make an affidavit which shows the party's income, allowable deductions, and net income computed in accordance with this section. The respondent shall include his or her affidavit with the answer to the petition or as soon thereafter as is practicable, but in any case at least 72 hours prior to any hearing on the finances of either party.
(15) For purposes of establishing an obligation for support in accordance with this section, if a person who is receiving public assistance is found to be noncooperative as defined in s. 409.2572, the IV-D agency is authorized to submit to the court an affidavit attesting to the income of the custodial parent based upon information available to the IV-D agency.
(16) The Legislature shall review the guidelines established in this section at least every 4 years beginning in 1997.
(17) In an initial determination of child support, whether in a paternity action, dissolution of marriage action, or petition for support during the marriage, the court has discretion to award child support retroactive to the date when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child, not to exceed a period of 24 months preceding the filing of the petition, regardless of whether that date precedes the filing of the petition. In determining the retroactive award in such cases, the court shall consider the following:
(a) The court shall apply the guidelines in effect at the time of the hearing subject to the obligor's demonstration of his or her actual income, as defined by subsection (2), during the retroactive period. Failure of the obligor to so demonstrate shall result in the court using the obligor's income at the time of the hearing in computing child support for the retroactive period.
(b) All actual payments made by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent or the child or third parties for the benefit of the child throughout the proposed retroactive period.
(c) The court should consider an installment payment plan for the payment of retroactive child support.
History.--s. 3, ch. 87-95; s. 5, ch. 89-183; s. 5, ch. 91-246; s. 11, ch. 92-138; s. 5, ch. 93-208; s. 2, ch. 94-204; s. 2, ch. 94-318; s. 1366, ch. 95-147; s. 53, ch. 96-175; s. 3, ch. 96-305; s. 11, ch. 97-170; s. 11, ch. 98-397; s. 1, ch. 99-359; s. 2, ch. 2001-91; ss. 15, 16, ch. 2001-158; s. 7, ch. 2002-173.