Child support is calculated by reference to a Florida Statute - F. S. 61.30 - which requires that the amount to be awarded be within five percent of the amount generated by the formula it sets out. The same formulas are used whether the parents were ever married to each other or not.
Generally, the amount of child support should be fairly easy to calculate if both parents work regular jobs, or even if one of them is a homemaker while the other works.
The usual issue that arises in calculating child support is when one or both parents has his or her own business. Then it becomes necessary for the attorney to explore whether that parent is using the business to pay for personal expenses without properly reflecting these payments as personal income. There are also a number of legitimate business deductions from income under the tax code which are not recognized when it comes time for child support calculation - depreciation, for instance.
A book could be written about the different ways that income can be proved when one parent seeks to artificially reduce his or her obligation to pay child support. This is where education and experience of the attorney can pay dividends in ensuring that the court awards the correct amount based on actual income despite efforts to conceal income or assets by the other parent.
Experience in finding the money is a major part of the attorney's job in more complex child support cases - just as it is in equitable distribution in divorce cases.
There are also special rules dealing with child support for unusual situations - like where one parent has an unusually high income, for example professional athletes. When running the normal child support formula would result in an obviously excessive child support obligation, there are restrictions on providing support in excess of the children's need.
Likewise, the statute provides for increased child support beyond the formulaic result if the family unit had a history of additional expenses that would not be met by the standard amount - such as private school expenses, medical expenses for a special needs child, and so forth. Child support can continue past the children reaching age 18 in certain circumstances, or even for the child's lifetime if the child is dependent due to medical or other reasons.
Once child support is awarded, it can later be modified up or down if either parent's financial situation substantially changes.
The court is also authorized to award the poorer parent his or her attorney's fees and costs incident to establishing or modifying a child support award, as part of the litigation.
I would be pleased to meet with you for a no-charge consultation to discuss what you might expect in seeking or defending the establishment, enforcement and modification of child support for your children.