Child Support in Florida
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support (2016), of the 13.4 million custodial single parents in the U.S., only approximately 6.5 million were awarded child support in 2013. Of them, only 45.6% received all support that was due while 25.9% received no child support money due.
Failure to pay child support is not taken lightly, and family law in Florida is taken quite seriously. In the state, parents are legally obligated to provide for their child(ren) financially until the child(ren) reaches age 18. Florida Statute § 61.14 sets forth the applicable child support laws for ordering child support, enforcement, and modification.
Do You Have to Pay?
Failure to pay child support carries a host of serious penalties including:
- Jail or prison time
- Wage garnishment
- Collection of past-due payments
- Damage to credit
- Driver’s license or vehicle registration suspension
- Seized bank accounts or income tax refunds
- Liens being placed on personal property
- Being held in contempt of court
Of particular importance is that contempt is reserved for willful refusal to pay after the state has taken numerous enforcement measures. Penalties can range from state jail or federal prison time to exorbitant fines on top of any or all of the aforementioned potential sanctions.
If you are unable to make your child support payments, enlisting the help of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can help negotiate payments will protect you from serious repercussions. A skilled attorney can also assist custodial parents who are not receiving payments to which they are entitled.
How Are Support Payments Determined?
The state adheres to an “income shares” model when calculating child support in that the combined parental income determines the amount of support. This model relies on the presumption that a child(ren) is entitled to receive the same proportion of parental financial support as s/he/they would if the parents remained together.
Thus, child support payments are calculated based on information in the submitted financial statements of both parents following a divorce. The court adheres to the state’s Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to determine an appropriate amount of support after taking into account relevant factors such as:
- The child(ren)’s ages
- The child(ren)’s needs
- Each parent’s financial status and ability to pay
- Each parent’s standard of living prior to the divorce
When examining each parent’s income, many factors are considered including salary and wages, bonuses, commissions, overtime, tips, self-employment income, disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits and/or settlements, pensions, retirement payments, social security or unemployment benefits, spousal support from a previous marriage, interest, dividends, and rental income, among others.
Child Support Modifications
Either parent may request modification of child support if there is a substantial change in circumstances since the divorce decree or last child support order was entered. If the paying party seeks a reduction, it is important to understand that this is not an easy endeavor in that a request for modification must be a result of an involuntary action, such as:
- Losing one’s job
- Losing other sources of income
- The receiving party’s income increases
- Children’s expenses decrease
It is important to note that voluntarily resigning is not an acceptable criterion to request modification. Some factors that may result in a child support modification to increase support include:
- The receiving party loses his/her job or other source of income
- The paying party’s income increases
- Children’s expenses increase
In both cases, if the court finds evidence of a significant change in circumstances, then the child support guidelines will determine the new amount.
How to Check Your Child Support Payments Online
There are several ways to check your child support payments—or even make payments—online.
MyFloridaRemit.com enables you to create an account, pay via electronic check, track payments, and receive instant verification of a successful payment.
Another option is via the Florida State Disbursement Unit’s Smart ePay system that provides support for parents who owe money, parents who are due money, and employers who are responsible for garnishing employees’ wages for owed child support.
Finally, the Florida Department of Revenue provides valuable information and assistance for noncustodial parents who owe money and custodial parents who are owed money.
Frost Law is Here to Help
Child support law in Florida is serious business, and the courts have considerable power in ensuring that parents who owe fulfill their obligations.
Whether you are a custodial parent who needs help receiving court-ordered child support or a noncustodial parent who has been ordered to pay child support in Orlando, Florida, we here at Frost Law can help. Our experienced child support lawyers are here to explain the law and offer guidance to help you achieve your desired outcome.
Call us today at 407-670-5569 or contact us on our website for a free consultation about your case.