How is income calculated for child support?

Child Support in Florida family law cases is calculated based upon a formula established by our statutes. This formula considers, among other things, the income of both parents. Section 61.30 of the Florida Statutes defines income; income for child support includes salary, bonuses, commissions, business income from self-employment, disability income, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment income, retirement and/or pension income, social security benefits, alimony received, rental income, reimbursed expenses/in kind payment, as well as other types of money received. While most of these are very easily calculated, income from self-employment can be difficult to calculate.

Self-employment income is defined by the statute as “gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.” However, what is considered an ordinary and necessary expense required to produce income is not always clear, especially in a small business. Recently, the Second District Court of Appeal reviewed a case involving this issue. The Court in this case explained that expenses which are required to operate a business, such as unreimbursed travel expenses, license fees, and some telephone expenses should be deducted from a person’s gross income. Unfortunately, the trial court did not make the appropriate and required findings and rulings in order for the trial court’s decision to be reviewed, which makes it nearly impossible to decide if the trial court made the right decision. This case was sent back to the trial court so that a more detailed ruling could be made.

However, this case does explain that these types of expenses MUST be considered when gross income is determined, and that this is not something that is discretionary. Additionally, this case explained that the intent behind the statute is to make sure that the only income considered in a child support calculation is income that is actually available to the parent, and not the portion of gross business income that pays for necessary business expenses.