Clients involved in child support cases with the Department of Revenue or Department of Administrative Law Hearings often ask how to calculate child support in Florida. The answer is incredibly nuanced. Primarily, the DOR or DOAH or the family court judge is looking for your incomes to determine how much child support is needed. From there, the court (DOR, DOAH or circuit court) looks to the number of overnights each parent spends with their children, as well as a multitude of other factors. Here, to calculate child support, we are focusing mainly on whether the party’s reimbursed expenses will be used to increase their income when calculating child support in Florida. Call Jacobs Law Firm, child support lawyer Orlando at 407-335-8113.
Calculating Child Support in Florida
The district courts of appeal have tested your question, how to calculate child support in Florida. The answer varies depending on the unique facts of your case. Among the biggest areas of dispute is whether your reimbursed expenses (from your parents or new wife or significant other, or the military, etc.) count as income when calculating support. Let’s start answering this question by looking to statutory law, “The child support guidelines specify that gross income includes reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses. § 61.30(2)(a)13, Fla. Stat. Ortega v. Wood, 316 So. 3d 408, 409, 2021. Essentially, the Ortega Court ruled that reimbursed expenses can count as gross income as long as they reduce living expenses. What might reduce living expenses? Many in the armed services receive housing and meal stipends that may reduce their living expenses.
If you are going to reasonably calculate child support Florida, distinguish the basic premise above from the Court’s further decision that “Reimbursements for business expenses are not income and should not be included in calculations for child support purposes.” It stands to reason that if I ask my paralegal to purchase a new printer at Office Depot or Costco and then pay her that exact amount, she has not profited, she has been reimbursed for an expense. Therefore, the Court rightly decided not to include that as gross income for purposes of calculating child support in Florida. If you are looking to waive child support or waive child support arrears, you may have some challenges with the court.
Calculate Child Support Florida
Here is a major pearl of wisdom for how to calculate child support in Florida. “Before a trial court can include a bonus in calculating net income for child support purposes, the bonus must be regular and continuous.” Vergara v. Vergara, 831 So. 2d 251, 252, 2002. Many clients tell us they might receive occasional bonuses but that does not guarantee regular bonuses or the amount to be earned/received. Plus, bonuses might be taxed at a higher rate. A lot goes into figuring out the numbers.
Moreover, in deciding how to calculate child support in Florida, adding to the case law provided above, “Parental gross income is determined using the factors in § 61.30(2)(a), which includes reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses. § 61.30(2)(a)(13). Specific dollar values for the in-kind contributions and reimbursed expenses must be determined, and the other statutory computations must be performed, in order to arrive at the parties’ net income levels, a proper support amount, and the respective shares of support.” Sunderwirth v. Sunderwirth, 332 So. 3d 1087, 1088, 2022. Of course, when courts calculate child support Florida, they should make factual findings. It stands to reason that calculating child support should be based on logic and common sense. Call Jacobs Law Firm today for your consultation 407-335-8113.