Navigating Child Support Matters: In The State of Florida

June 27, 2023

Child support is an important familial issue that affects many parents in the stateof Florida. In the State of Florida, each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child. To help accomplish this principle, the State of Florida, has established what are known as “guidelines” which is a schedule based on the parents’ combined net income estimated to have been allocated to the child as if the parents and children were living in an intact household. These guidelines encourage fair and efficient settlement of support issues between parents and minimize the need for litigation. Continue reading for more information on navigating child support matters in Florida. 

Child Support Guidelines

The State of Florida has set guidelines for the calculations of child support payments based on a variety of factors, including the income of the parents, the number of children being supported, the number of overnights each parent spends with the child, and other factors which the court will consider in the best interest of the child.

In Florida, child support is calculated, in part, utilizing the parent(s)income. Gross income shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Salary or wages,
  2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments,
  3. Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income,
  4. Disability benefits,
  5. All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements,
  6. Re-employment assistance or unemployment compensation,
  7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments,
  8. Social security benefits,
  9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court,
  10. Interest and dividends,
  11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income,
  12. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates,
  13. Reimbursed expenses or in-kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses,
  14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.

Additionally, “Monthly income” maybe assessed even if the parent is unemployed or underemployed if such unemployment or underemployment is found by the court to be voluntary on that parent’s part. Unless, there is evidence of, and a finding by the court, of “physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control.”  

If this is the case (i.e voluntary unemployment or underemployment), the employment potential and probable earnings level of the parent will be determined by the court based on the parent’s “work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community if such information is available.”

If the information concerning a parent’s income is unavailable, a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or a parent fails to supply adequate financial information in a child support proceeding, then the court will typically “automatically impute” income to the parent and there is a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to “the median income of year-round full-timeworkers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census.”

The law in Florida obligates all parents to support their children until they reach the age of 18 years old or until they graduate from high school, whichever occurs later, and in some cases, it may extend up to the age of 19 if the child is still in high school. It is important to note that child support is not only limited to biological parents, but it also extends to any legal guardian or adoptive parent responsible for the child's welfare.

In addition to the basic child support payments, the State of Florida may require parents to contribute to additional expenses such as health insurance coverage, childcare expenses, and education expenses. The cost-sharing rules may vary depending on the custody arrangement, income of the parents, the age and the special needs of the child, and the availability of services in the community.

Non-payment of child support in Florida is considered a serious legal offense and is punishable by law. Parents who fail to pay child support may face wage garnishments, driver’s license suspension or even incarceration and other consequences. It is, therefore, crucial for both parents to remain responsible in ensuring that actual child support payments are made.

In conclusion, child support is an important issue in the State of Florida. Both parents have an obligation to provide financial support to their children, and the guidelines established by the state law reflect this responsibility. Complying with child support orders is essential for the well-being of children, and noncompliance may result in serious legal consequences.


1.      Can I waive child support payments in a prenuptial agreement?

No. Child support payments cannot be waived in a prenuptial agreement because generally the courts have held that child support is the child's right, not the parents right. Therefore, a parent cannot waive a right that is not his/ hers. The right to child support rests with the child.

2.      Can a child support payment be changed if the parent ordered to pay child support experiences a reduction in his/ her income?

Typically, yes! But, it’s not automatic nor is it guaranteed. The court may modify the amount and terms and conditions of a previous award of child support payments if the modification is found by the court to be in the best interests of the child; when the child reaches majority; if there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties; if s. 743.07(2) applies; or when a child is emancipated, marries, joins the armed services, or dies.

3.       If I marry someone who has children from a previous relationship, will the State of Florida require me to pay child support if my spouse and I divorce? 

No, if your spouse is children are not your biological children, and you did not adopt them nor are you their legal guardian, then typically a court will not require you to pay child support upon the dissolution of your marriage to their parent.

Of course, It is important to note that all cases are unique and specific, and therefore, we encourage you to speak with a family law practitioner to review the facts of your case to determine if some other aspect of your unique family law case may require payment of child support.

4.      Can I stop paying child support if my ex-spouse does not comply with the agreed-upon Parenting Plan and Schedule? 

No. Court has previously determined that you must pay a specific amount in child support to your ex-spouse, who has suddenly failed to comply with the agreed upon parenting plan, you cannot simply and unilaterally stop paying child support in accordance with the award of child support payments. You can however, file a proceeding with the court for enforcement of the parenting plan and request attorney’s fees and costs for having to do so. Notably, however, it is up to the courts to determine whether they will award attorney’s fees and costs for having to bring such a matter to the courts.

5.      If my spouse and I separated 1 year before I filed a Petition for dissolution of marriage, can I request child support going back (retroactively) to the initial date in which we separated?

Yes, but it will depend on when the separation took place. The court has discretion to award child support retroactive to the date when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child, not to exceed a period of 24 months preceding the filing of the petition, regardless of whether that date precedes the filing of the petition.

Discuss Your Case with A South Florida Divorce Lawyer Experienced in Child Support Matters.

The Joseph Firm, P.A., has extensive experience helping clients in various child support matters in South Florida, including Miami Dade County. Our law firm fully understands the challenges of navigating child support issues, and we're always ready to provide the highest-quality legal representation. Whether your case settles outside the courtroom or goes to trial (or final hearing), our attorneys go the extra mile for every client.

We handle every case with a unique approach, as we know every family dynamic is different. You can expect care and compassion while we fight aggressively for your rights and a favorable outcome. Our firm offers evaluations. Speak to a Miami divorce attorney at The Joseph Firm, P.A. today by calling (305) 501-0992 or contacting us online.

And if you, or someone you know, is dealing with a family, child support or marital related matter call a Miami divorce lawyer at Joseph Firm, P.A.  who can help handle your case from beginning to end. Helping you pursue the best possible outcome. The experienced divorce lawyers at Joseph Firm, P.A. are ready to hear your story. We provide smart, aggressive family law representation to clients. To learn more, call (305) 501-0992 or contact us online.