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Mark Abzug

Can Florida courts deviate from the child support guidelines?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2023 | Child Support

Financial disputes during a divorce can be distressing. But when the discussion involves your child’s support and protection, it can be additionally worrisome.

Generally, Florida family courts use specific guidelines when calculating child support. These guidelines allow for a simpler and faster way to compute minimum support based on common factors, such as the parents’ combined monthly income and the number of children. Nevertheless, courts can still consider factors outside the state guidelines when determining child support.

Due to unique case circumstances

Child support guidelines are there to assist courts in producing a rough estimate of support with the presumption that the variables for each case are the same. However, each case has unique circumstances, prompting courts to also consider those during their calculation. This includes, but is not limited to, the following factors:

  • A child’s special needs
  • A child’s day care expenses
  • Time-sharing arrangement, especially the number of overnights
  • Transportation costs for out-of-state parents
  • The payor’s ability to finance their basic living expenses

Ordinarily, courts cannot deviate beyond 5% of the guideline’s calculation. However, if other factors, such as those mentioned above, justify a larger deviation, the law allows the courts to do so.

Not a black-and-white calculation

Divorce issues, like child support, can be overwhelming, especially if it involves unfamiliar concepts and formulas. Nonetheless, while courts apply a mathematical formula when computing child support, it does not mean that the calculated amount using the formula is final and absolute. Like other divorce issues, child support depends on each case’s unique facts and circumstances.