Child support is a calculation based upon several factors: (1) the parents’ net incomes, (2) the number of children, (3) the cost of children’s health insurance, (4) the cost of children’s medical expenses, (5) the cost of day care, and (6) the number of overnights the children spend each year with each parent. The actual means of calculating it is set out in detail in Florida Divorce Handbook 6th ed. (2013).
The court is permitted to deviate from the calculated amount by up to 5% without explaining. If he/she exceeds that deviation, there must be a written explanation in the order/judgment. Why would a judge deviate? There could be many reasons. Suppose, for example, one of the parents is a wealthy athlete or businessman. The children would be entitled to an elevated lifestyle, but they wouldn’t need as much as would be calculated in a Child Support Worksheet. Likewise, if the children of their own, such as from employment or a trust account, they might not need the entire calculated amount. On the other hand, if the child had special needs, whether that involved counseling, tutoring, or constant supervision, the court could take that into consideration.
Unless the parties agree otherwise, child support is paid by directing the payer’s employer to deduct the support from his/her paycheck and send it to the Florida Disbursement Unit in Tallahassee. The FDU then sends it on to the parent entitled to the money. This procedure makes it far more likely that payments will be made, will be made on time, and are documented if a later dispute arises.