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Calculating Income for Child Support in South Florida

In many respects, the laws surrounding child support are the most straightforward of all the family law-related calculations. As in other states, Florida imposes a precise statutory calculation on the determination of child support, which courts can only deviate from in certain circumstances (and even then, generally only by five percent up or down).

Determining Child Support

Once a child's primary residence is established, the non-custodial parent acquires the responsibility to provide support payments to the other parent for child-raising expenses. Determining this payment is a multi-step process, which begins with the calculation of the parents' incomes.

Once income is established, a chart contained in the statute provides a payment amount, depending on income. This base amount is then allocated between the parents, relative to their respective incomes. These figures are subsequently adjusted to account for medical expenses, child care expenses, or other similar child-related expenses. And the final amount imputed to the non-custodial parent is the "guideline" child support payment, to be adjusted only when needed.

The first step of these calculations, however, is always a determination of the parents' incomes. And often, this can be the most contentious aspect of child support proceedings.

Establishing Income

Generally, all kinds of income count for purposes of calculating child support, including dividend payments, interest, and royalties. Government benefits, such as Social Security payments or disability payments, also count for calculation of income. And employment benefits that take forms other than cash count as income too, provided those benefits "reduce living expenses." In other words, even if an employer pays you in some tangible item (or, say, by providing housing), that item is included in the determination of income for purposes of child support.

This last category is often the subject of dispute: A parent to whom child support will be paid will seek to define some fringe work benefit as income while the paying, non-custodial parent seeks to frame that benefit as something connected with work and work alone, rather than something that reduces his or her living expenses.

In the 2000 case of Lauro v. Lauro, a Florida court was faced with a wife who was arguing that the husband's per diem reimbursements for meals when away on business trips should be included in the calculations of his income. She asserted that, because he could use the per diem to pay for his meals away from home, he did not have to buy groceries—which, in turn, led to a reduction of his living expenses.

The court, however, disagreed:

Child Support Calucations

South Florida Family Lawyers Can Answer Your Questions

If you are seeking a divorce and need help navigating the law, please reach out to our professionals at Hager, Schwartz & Ross, P.A. in Miami today. We can help you through this time and advise you on any and all family law-related matters.

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