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How does a court decide how much child support to order?

There is perhaps nothing more satisfying in Florida residents' lives than the experience of raising a child. Parents develop a special bond with their children that is different from any other relationship, and this bond lasts a lifetime.

Of course, this is not to say that raising a child is easy. There is no shortage of challenges presented by parenthood, including the most basic challenges of putting food on the table and meeting the child's needs. These challenges can become even harder after a divorce, as a single parent tries to meet all of these needs on a single income. In these circumstances, a meaningful child support order can make all of the difference.

Child support is one of the most important children's issues in a divorce, along with custody. This is true no matter which parent gains custody over the children. On the one hand, the custodial spouse has an interest in obtaining child support that is sufficient to meet the needs of the child. On the other hand, the non-custodial parent may have other financial challenges to meet on a single income, including not only child support, but his or her own needs and a potential award of spousal support as well.

Ultimately, while each parent may prefer a certain amount or another of child support, the guiding factor for the court is the best interests of the child. This is a multi-factor test that is used not only for determining how to award custody, but in making child support decision as well.

Accordingly, the court will calculate child support with the child's needs in mind. The court will also look at each parent's income in determining how much child support to order. Thus, while the specific figure of child support will vary from case to case, the basic principles used to make the calculation remain the same in every case.

Source: Florida Legislature, "61.30," accessed on July 30, 2016

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