When a child’s parents earn a substantial amount of income, the issue of child support is significant both to the parents and the child. Both parents do not want to jeopardize their financial security, but first and foremost it is important that a child’s needs are met. Florida law recognizes this and has a standard needs table to use as a starting point for determining child support.
The standard needs table
Florida law provides a standard needs table that lists how much child support to award based on each parent’s income and the number of children being supported. High-net worth parents can expect to pay more in child support than those with a lower income and few resources. In special circumstances a judge can deviate from the standard needs table.
Deviating from the standard needs table
A court can deviate from the guideline amount plus or minus 5% after examining all appropriate factors. Some of these factors include the child’s needs, the child’s age, the child’s station in life, the standard of living the child enjoyed and the financial status of both parents. Specifically, if the paying parent’s net income is below the amount in the standard needs table, the amount owed will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
If a court wants to deviate from the guideline amounts more than 5%, there must be a written finding describing why following the guidelines set in Florida law would be unfair or otherwise inappropriate. The following factors will be considered when deviating from the standard needs table:
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational or dental expenses
- Any independent income the child has
- Seasonal variation in a parent’s income or expenses
- The child’s age
- Whether a child has special needs
- The total available assets of both parents and the child
- Tax impacts; and
- The parenting plan
Ultimately, the court can also consider any other adjustment necessary to reach a fair amount of support. While high-income parents can expect to pay a significant amount of child support, ultimately the court will try to make the final child support payments as fair as possible.