What Is Child Support and How Is It Calculated?

Desk with judges gavel on child support agreement-Title: What is Child Support and How Is It Calculated?

No matter who pays, when, or how much; child support is always a prickly issue for everyone involved. The legal definition of child support refers to the amount a non-custodial parent must pay to the custodial parent. The payment serves as a legal commitment for the child’s living expenses, including food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education, among other expenses. States use different models to determine how child support is calculated.

Once the child reaches 18, states typically do not impose any further support obligation on the parent. A parent has the legal responsibility of supporting ONLY their biological child. 

No matter where a parent resides, child support is a tension-filled experience, and in the middle is a minor child or children who are usually unaware of what is happening around them.

Below are some helpful guidelines and resources that can help parents weather the storm.

  • Florida Child Support Guidelines
  • Impactful Child Support laws
  • Calculating Child Support
  • Services of The Department of Revenue


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Florida Child Support Guidelines

Each state has its idiosyncrasies of how child support is calculated and the payment a non-custodial parent must make.

No law firm in Florida has a better understanding of child support guidelines than Hunter Law in Tampa, (813) 287-2227.

Florida Statute 61.30, “Child support guidelines; retroactive child support,” is the directive for supporting a minor child in Florida. Other laws on the books may have an impact on a parent’s support case. However, 61.30 is the definitive guideline all parents should refer to first.

Another vital law for child support is Statute 61.13. This law addresses time-sharing with the child. Meaning, when a parent spends more than 20% of available time with the child, a “gross-up method” is used to calculate payments.

Other impactful child support laws:

Florida is a staunch defender of the child, and in this state, parents have a statutory obligation to support their minor children. Florida courts will not waive child support. Under Florida Family Law, support payments belong to the minor child. Florida courts will not waive the obligation because the payment does not belong to the parent.

Also,  a court case involving child custody or divorce cannot proceed and certainly cannot be concluded if there is an issue of child support on the table.

Contact Hunter Law at (813) 287-2227


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Florida makes it extremely difficult to get out from under or alter a child support agreement, but it can be done:

  • Florida courts can alter the child support agreement if the judge feels the arrangement is unfair. (good luck with that!!!)
  • A parent surrenders their legal rights to the child. This means the surrendering parent will no longer have any legal say in the child’s life.
  • The child turns 18 unless there are exceptional circumstances attached.

In one particular and interesting instance, the courts awarded support payments to run until the child turned 21 or graduated from college. (Finn v. Finn)

Exceptional circumstances can be a myriad of scenarios. The child is physically unable to support themselves or is mentally handicapped, the custodial parent cannot support the child, and the list goes on and on.

How Child Support Payments Are Calculated

In Florida, child support payments and other child services are overseen by the Department of Revenue. The department leaves no stone unturned to help children get the financial help they are owed.

Any of the skilled Attorneys at Hunter Law can help you with child support issues or questions. Contact our offices at (813) 287-2227


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Services of the Department of Revenue Include:

  • Locating parents and assets, the department works with local and federal agencies in its search for child support. If the parent is willfully avoiding a child support payment, severe penalties can be imposed. The department can file a “Motion for Contempt,” among other actions.
  • The department can assist the courts in establishing the paternity of the child.
  • Modify and establish child support orders.
  • Take action to help parents make child support payments

Contempt of Court in Florida

Contact Hunter Law at (813) 287-2227

The amount of child support a parent is required to pay is based on Florida Child Support Guidelines. Every type of income a person may receive is used to calculate the payment. Everything from salary and wages, pension, and retirement to income from royalties and trusts are included. 

Once all known income has been tallied, the courts subtract deductions such as taxes and other spousal support payments. Child support is calculated from the net income, not the gross. In general, the non-custodial parent makes payments directly to the parent with custody of the minor child.

Here is a handy calculator to help parents calculate a child support payment. Before using the calculator, it is vital to read the disclaimer.

There is no better advice a parent can receive than to contact one of the skilled family law attorneys at Hunter Law, (813) 287-2227