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What counts as income for child support purposes?

Child support obligations can have a profound impact on a family's financial well-being. For a custodial parent, it can set the stage for how he or she will provide for his or her child, and any shortfalls may lead to financial hardship. For noncustodial parents, child support obligations can account for a significant portion of their financial expenses. Thus, the legal system in Florida seeks to find a balance that allows and encourages noncustodial parents to meet their child support obligations while contributing significantly to the costs associated with their child's upbringing.

To strike this balance, a court must take into account a noncustodial parent's income. Many sources of revenue can count for income determination purposes, including one's salary and wages as well as any bonuses, commissions, and tips. But that's not all that a court will consider. It will also look to see if an individual receives any sort of disability benefits, workers' compensation benefits, pension payments and other monies received from retirement accounts. Money obtained from rents, Social Security, trusts and investments will also be counted as income for child support calculation purposes.

Even those who are unemployed or have minimal employment may have income imputed upon them for the purposes of calculating child support if a court finds that such unemployment or underemployment is intentional. In these circumstances, a court will consider an individual's recent work history, qualifications, and comparable earnings for similar individuals in the community to come up with an applicable income.

With their own and their children's financial well-being on the line, parents in Florida need to carefully address child support issues when they arise. Whether the matter comes up during divorce, the end of a non-marital relationship, or at some point afterwards, a skilled family law attorney may be able to assist with establishing a child support order or modifying an already existing one.

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