How to Calculate Child Support Payments in Florida

Learn how to calculate child support in Florida, when the amount of support may be different than what’s calculated under the state’s guidelines, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Florida has child support guidelines that parents and judges use to calculate the right amount of support in a particular case. The guidelines are based on the principle that parents have a legal obligation to support their children.

How to Calculate Child Support Under Florida's Guidelines

Unlike many other states, Florida doesn't provide an official, online calculator for child support. But the state does provide a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet that you can use to calculate your basic support obligation, based on the current Florida child support guidelines. The worksheet includes instructions for the calculation as you fill in your financial information and parenting time plan.

Florida's child support guidelines take into account many factors, including:

  • both parents' income
  • the standard needs for the child based on Florida's child support guidelines chart
  • the amount of parenting time each parent has with the child
  • child care costs, and
  • health care costs for the child.

Learn more about child support in Florida, including what gets counted as income under the guidelines and how time-sharing affects child support.

(Fla. Stat. § 61.30 (2024).)

Are Other Child Support Calculators Accurate?

Watch out for other websites with so-called child support calculators for Florida. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that these calculators are accurate and up-to-date. Florida updates its child support guidelines regularly, and there's no way of knowing whether any of these other websites have kept up with the latest changes.

It's best to stick with the official state worksheets to get the most accurate estimate of the amount of child support you may pay or receive. The judge may order a different amount in your case (more on that below). And, of course, the accuracy of any child support calculation will also depend on the accuracy of the information you provide.

When Child Support May Be Different than the Guideline Calculation

In Florida, child support is typically determined by the guidelines, but a judge may raise or lower the guideline amount by up to 5% after considering all relevant factors, such as:

  • the child's age, needs, and standard of living, and
  • each parent's financial status and ability.

If a judge wants to deviate from the guideline amount by more than 5%, the judge must give a written reason. Florida law provides a long list of potential "deviation factors" including:

  • the child's extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses
  • seasonal variations in the parents' income
  • the impact of child-related tax credits and dependency exemptions, and
  • the parents' and child's total available assets.

If you want a judge to order more or less than the guideline child support amount, you'll need to file a Motion to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines.

(Fla. Stat. § 61.30(1)(a), 11(a) (2024).)

How to Apply for Child Support in Florida

If you're filing for divorce in Florida, you can request child support as part of that process. You can—and parents often do you—agree on an amount of child support as part of a divorce settlement. You'll have to submit your agreement for a judge to approve. If you're agreeing to an amount that deviates from the guideline amount, be sure to explain your reasons for the deviation and why your agreement is in your child's best interests.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you can get help applying for support through the Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Program. The program can help you establish paternity if necessary and establish a child support order. Or you can Petition for Support Unconnected with Dissolution on your own.

How to Collect Child Support in Florida

When Florida judges order child support, they must also issue an "income deduction order" that requires the paying parent's employer to take the support amount directly from that parent's income.

If you're not receiving payments, the Child Support Program can help you collect. The program uses many enforcement methods, including:

(Fla. Stat. § 61.1301 (2024).)

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

You can ask a judge to change a child support order by filing a Petition for Modification of Child Support. The judge will have to find:

  • there's been a substantial change in circumstances since the last order, and
  • the change is in the best interests of the child.

A substantial change of circumstance might include a significant change in either parent's income, a permanent disability, or a substantial change in a family's parenting-time arrangement.

You can ask the Child Support Program to review your current support order to see if a modification is warranted if your support order isn't going to end within 6 months of your request and:

  • your support order hasn't been changed or reviewed in the last three years, or
  • you can show a large change in your life.

(Fla. Stat. § 61.30 (2024).)

Getting Help With Child Support

Calculating child support is complicated. The Florida State Courts Self-Help page offers up-to-date forms and DIY Florida is an online portal that guides you through the paperwork you need for your situation and then tells you how to file it. Learn more about legal services and resources in Florida.

If you and your co-parent can't agree on child custody, support, or both, you might need a lawyer's help. An experienced lawyer can answer your questions, help you negotiate an agreement that works for you and your child, and advocate for you in court if it comes to that.

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