If you have ever helped your kids with their math homework, you have probably come across problems like this:

“If John has a monthly gross income of $5,000 and allowable deductions totaling $1,500 a month, and Mary has a monthly gross income of $8,000 and allowable deductions of $2,000 a month, and their three children have expenses of at least $2,700 a month, what will John’s child support payment be when John and Mary get divorced?”

OK, you probably have not seen a problem exactly like that.  But if you are negotiating a divorce settlement, you can expect to encounter a mathematical calculation similar to this one — only somewhat more complicated — when it comes to determining child support payments to be required of the non-custodial parent.

In Florida, child support obligations are calculated according to statutory guidelines that take into account each parent’s income from all sources, minus allowable deductions such as mandatory union dues and support paid for other children and ex-spouses, adjusted with credits for insurance and child care paid for the children.  A standard table is used to estimate the children’s monthly financial need, based on the combined net incomes of the parent and the number of children. The percentage of the combined parental income that is contributed by the non-custodial spouse is applied to the children’s financial need to determine a monthly payment.

Got that? If not, take a look at a worksheet that lays it all out for you, to help you estimate the child support that a court might order. Bear in mind that judges have limited discretion to deviate from the standard formula based on the facts of an individual case, but they are required to include in their finding how and why they are deviating from the guidelines.

Posted in Family Law