What are the Florida statutes on child support for special needs children?

Understanding Florida's Approach to Child Support for Special Needs Children

In the state of Florida, child support is a critical component of ensuring that children's needs are met following the separation or divorce of their parents. When it comes to special needs children, who may require additional care and support, Florida statutes provide specific considerations to ensure their well-being. This article will delve into the nuances of Florida's child support laws as they pertain to special needs children and offer insights through examples and historical context.

Legal Framework for Child Support in Florida

The foundation for child support in Florida is laid out in Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes. The guidelines within this chapter establish the basis for calculating child support obligations based on the income of both parents and the needs of the child. However, when a child has special needs, these calculations can become more complex.

Florida law recognizes that special needs can encompass a wide range of physical, emotional, developmental, or mental health conditions. Each case is evaluated individually, taking into account the specific needs and costs associated with caring for the child.

Calculating Child Support for Special Needs Children

When determining child support for a special needs child, courts in Florida will consider various factors that go beyond standard calculations. These may include necessary medical treatment, therapy sessions, specialized equipment, home care services, and any educational requirements unique to the child's condition. The court aims to ensure that the child support awarded is sufficient to cover these additional expenses.

In some instances, such as in Forde v. Forde, courts have ruled that child support payments may continue past the age of majority if the special needs individual remains dependent due to their disability. This reflects an understanding that some special needs children will require lifelong support.

Modification of Child Support

Florida law also allows for modification of child support orders if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For families with special needs children, changes such as new medical diagnoses, alterations in educational requirements, or changes in parental income can all constitute valid reasons to revisit existing child support arrangements.


Navigating child support for special needs children in Florida requires an understanding of both state statutes and how they apply to unique situations. Parents and guardians should seek legal counsel experienced in family law and special needs advocacy to ensure that their children's interests are fully protected and provided for under the law.

For further detailed information on Florida statutes regarding child support for special needs children, please refer to the official state legislature website.