Whose Income is the Amount of Child Support Based on, and What is Considered Income?

In determining the amount of child support, the income of both spouses is a crucial factor, and it encompasses various sources of income. Here are some examples of income that are considered when calculating child support:

  • Employment income, which includes salary, overtime wages, tips, commissions, and bonuses.
  • Unemployment compensation.
  • Disability benefits.
  • Business income.
  • Income received from trusts, estates, and royalties.
  • Alimony received.
  • Social security benefits.
  • Pension and annuity payments.
  • Net rental income.

In cases where one party is intentionally unemployed, underemployed, or not earning their full potential in an attempt to reduce child support payments, the court may impute income. This means that the court may calculate an appropriate income for that party as if they were working at their true capacity in order to determine the amount of child support owed. However, this imputation of income is typically employed when the reduction in hours or pay is within the control of the party, and it aims to prevent the paying party from concealing their true income to pay less child support.

When is a Child’s Preference Considered by the Court?

In Florida, unlike some other states that specify a particular age (e.g., 14) at which a child’s preference regarding which parent they want to live with is considered by the court, there is no set age. Instead, the decision is left to the judge’s discretion. However, many judges in Florida tend to take a child’s preference into account around the age of 12 or 13, among other factors. The judge considers factors such as the child’s intelligence, maturity, experiences with each parent, and their understanding of the decision being made. It’s important to recognize that children vary in their maturity levels, and some may demonstrate a capacity for making important decisions at a younger age. In rare cases, an unusually articulate and intelligent 11-year-old may be given consideration by the judge. Furthermore, the judge evaluates whether the child’s choice to live with a particular parent is genuine or if it stems from rebellion against the custodial parent. The court also assesses whether one parent is attempting to unduly influence the child’s opinion. Ultimately, the judge weighs all these factors, including the child’s preference, when making a decision about custody or visitation arrangements. However, the child’s preference is typically not the sole determining factor in the judge’s decision.

What are some of the factors that judges consider when determining child custody issues?

When parents who are in the process of separating or divorcing cannot reach an agreement regarding visitation or parenting time, the judge typically makes a decision based on various factors, always with the child’s best interests in mind. These factors include:

  • The mental and physical health of each parent.
  • The duration of time the child has resided in their current home.
  • The moral fitness of each parent.
  • The willingness of each parent to communicate and cooperate with the other, including keeping them informed about the child’s activities and fostering a strong relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • The ability of each parent to prioritize the child’s needs over their own desires.
  • The child’s history in terms of their home, school, and community.
  • Each parent’s capability to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • The ability of each parent to establish a consistent and regular routine for the child, including meals, bedtime, and homework.
  • Whether there is any evidence of drug use, violence, neglect, or abuse in either parent’s home.
  • Depending on the child’s level of intelligence and maturity, their preference regarding which parent they would like to live with may also be considered.

Ultimately, the judge’s decision is guided by these factors to ensure that the child’s well-being and best interests are the primary focus during this challenging time.