How Is Child Support Determined?

In Florida, both parents are legally obligated to provide support for their minor children. The purpose of child support is to ensure that a child’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter are met. The right to receive child support belongs to the child and a parent who is to receive child support cannot waive away this right on behalf of the child.


Child support is established based upon a standard formula created by the Florida legislature, known as the “Child Support Guidelines.” The Child Support Guidelines help make sure child support amounts are fair and uniform throughout the state. The Guidelines are used to figure out the support needed for each child and the amount each parent has to pay. These Guidelines are used the first time child support is ordered and every subsequent time the child support amount changes. The primary considerations are:

  • The number of children common to both parents
  • The net income of both parents
  • The child’s health care and child care costs
  • The number of overnight stays the children have with each parent

At the time when child support is initially established, retroactive support may also be established. Retroactive child support can be ordered for the time period between the date the parents separated and the date that the child support order goes into effect.


Applying the formula and running the child support guidelines is a complicated task. If done incorrectly, it can lead to a parent overpaying or underpaying the amount of child support. Therefore, it is best to consult with an experienced Orlando family law attorney before agreeing to a child support obligation. Once the amount of child support is determined, you may not be able to change it later, even if you want to.

Call Longwell Lawyers today at (407) 553-9599  and set up a consultation with your Orlando child support attorney.

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