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Child Support Legal Services
In Florida, divorced or separated couples often share joint custody of their children. However, sometimes location or other complications make this arrangement impossible. When one parent has sole physical custody of the children, the non-custodial parent is required to pay child support. Other conditions require support payments as well. Both parents are required to take part in meeting the needs of their children.

Generally, child custody and support are established during divorce proceedings. However, parents who were never married are still entitled to child support. All children are entitled to support to meet their basic needs. If you are having difficulty getting child support that is owed to you, it is best to consult a Florida family law attorney.

Procedures for Obtaining Child Support

To legally obtain child support, you must go through the court system or visit your local child support office. If you and your partner create a verbal or written agreement together, non-payment cannot be pursued by the law. While you may be able to reach an agreement at the time of separation, you cannot be sure one partner won’t change their mind. Your family law attorney will help you get started with the proper forms.

After filing your claim for child support, you will be contacted for information regarding your financial situation and that of your spouse. (If you applied for other government assistance, child support enforcement may have been contacted on your behalf.) It is important to comply with this step. However, it can be difficult to gather information about a parent wishing to avoid payment. Your attorney and the support enforcement office can help get this information. You must also disclose any court case that has involved your child in the past. It may take 6 to 8 months to obtain the support order.

Determination of Payment Amount

In Florida, the income of both parents and the amount of time the child spends living with each parent work to determine the payment amount. There are many factors that define the final amount, but Florida payments are determined by the following calculations.

  • 1 child – 20 percent of income
  • 2 children – 28 percent of income
  • 3 children – 32 percent of income
  • 4 children – 40 percent of income
  • 5 children – 45 percent of income
  • 6 children – 50 percent of income

Along with the use of the calculator, other factors are considered. Some special circumstances may be considered regarding the income of both parents, and the healthcare needs of the child. Florida guidelines include some additional deviations. Payments may be different from the amounts calculated above if the child has excess medical, psychological, or educational expenses. This change would distribute these needs evenly between both parents.

The age of the child(ren) is an important factor regarding the payment amount. Older children may have larger expenses. The independent income earned by the child may also be considered. If parental income varies with seasons, payments may need to be changed as well. A parent will not be required to pay more than 50 percent of their income toward child support payments.

Your custody plan will also be considered when determining payments. The number of overnight stays is an important factor. Other activities may be considered as well. If a parent fails to uphold a joint custody arrangement, support payments may be modified.

Enforcing Child Support Payments

In the event that your spouse refuses to pay or stops making payments, there are ways to enforce support through Florida law. Sometimes, it is difficult to obtain information about a parent attempting to dodge support payments. A family law attorney can help you find the best options to regain unpaid child support.

The Enforcement Unit of the Child Support Department may take the following actions to enforce payment.

  • Wage Garnishment – Employers can deduct the amount of support owed before payment for labor.
  • Freezing Bank Accounts – A computer search can reveal active bank accounts of non-paying parents which can be frozen.
  • Referral for Contempt – Failing to follow a court order is contempt of court which can lead to fines and jail time.
  • Suspension of Licenses – Vehicle and professional licenses can be temporarily suspended.
  • Liens – Liens can be placed on real estate and personal property.
  • IRS Interception – Tax returns can be taken to help cover delinquent payments.
  • Lottery Winnings – If a parent wins more than 600 dollars in the Florida state lottery, the winnings can be used for delinquent support.

Florida child support enforcement works with departments in other states to ensure payment from parents who live in another state. In cases that involve other states, enforcement tactics are used that comply with the laws in both states. A family law attorney is especially useful in these cases to act as a liaison between the cases of each state.

If the support you receive is insufficient, you may be able to modify your payments. This is done by filing a modification petition with the court. This is usually only considered with a significant financial change by either parent. It is important to note that once the modification is filed, the court must see in through even if payments decrease.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

There are laws in place to support the needs of children and the families who care for them. However, court cases can become lengthy and difficult. Your family law attorney understands the statutes surrounding your case. An attorney can help you speed up the process by preparing the proper forms, searching for a missing parent, and enforcing support payments.

Child custody and support cases are always difficult and painful for families to endure. Providing for your child(ren) should not be a complication of your separation. If you are facing a child support case in the Orlando area, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. The Law Office of Erin Morse is ready to fight for your right to provide the best care for your children.

Putting Your Children, Not Your Divorce First

Children deserve to have a healthy relationship with their parents. Parents who are going through a divorce may not be able to be with the children everyday, but through mutual respect of the divorce and separation and putting the children first, the children will feel as if they can better maneuver the separation. This mature approach to a situation that is already mentally taxing can help the children to go a long way. As the child custody and child support related duties are assigned, allowing the children to be the center and in the winning position should be the goal for the parents.

Making a stand for your children is what should be front and center. Child custody is a serious position to have. It is in the interest of the both parents if they decide on child custody in a healthy manner. Both parents can agree to disagree on the dissolution of their relationship, but coming up with a game plan on how to make certain the children are fully supported is key.

CHILD SUPPORT

Child support is put in to place in order to protect and provide for the child. The parent with child custody receives the money to use for raising the child. Remembering this fact and not focusing on how the ex-partner will receive the money can remove a lot of misunderstandings. The financial support is for the parent who has custody to use for the children.

Child support is necessary. In focusing on the game plan of putting the children first, it is best to remember to put egos aside. Child support payments continue until the child is 18 years of age. There are special circumstances where the support may continue if the child is unable to care for him or herself. In Florida paying child support is a necessary step in order to ensure that both parents are involved in the upbringing of the child. Florida has laws in place in order to make certain that both parents participate in hopes of having the child grow up to become an upstanding and balanced individual.

Florida assists parents with the following issues:

  • court orders
  • support enforcement
  • collection from the parents living in another state
  • to enforce payment via income withholding
  • to find a missing parent
  • establish paternity

THE AMOUNT OF SUPPORT

Thе amоunt оf support varies per each situation. The parent who is responsible for paying support reports how much they are making and the judge assesses. The support is an agreement made by negotiating, mediating or a court decision. Factors that are considered for the percentage to pay is the paying parent’s income. Additionally, the parents can agree and arrange for who pays for medical insurance. If the parents do not do this the court may order the paying parent or both parents to pay for the insurance or medical bills.

Without being too afraid that your bottom line will all go away, it is important to understand that the support amount is also based on what the parent is capable of earning as per their education and job skills. Taking on a low wage job in order to avoid child support payments is not a way of making certain that your child is first and winning in the game of life. The court will assess accordingly and may decide that even with a lower paying job the paying parent must pay a higher amount.

MAKING PAYMENTS

In order to comply with the state’s law, payments have to be made. The judge will set how often and how the payments are made if the parents cannot come to an amicable agreement. In too many cases, the parents forget about the importance of the child and start to have a tug-of-war about if they should make payments and if the receiving parent is taking advantage of the situation. If the child has pushed to the side like this, then the payment will be made via the state of Florida’s child support agency.

Not making payments is not putting the child first. In the event that this happens Florida has laws in place to get payments back on track. Modifications and adjustments can be made under special circumstances. If both parents are in agreement they will do so in an agreement of which the court must approve. If the parents are not on the same page the court will decide and could decide to not make a change at all.

When the paying parent does not pay, then the repercussions could be the following:

  • Credit bureaus are notified of the unpaid amount and this affects the paying parent’s credit
  • Tax refunds are taken and diverted accordingly
  • Loss of driver’s license
  • Criminal charges brought forward and jail time served or a fine imposed
  • Lien against property which makes it impossible to sell the property or to transfer it

TAXES

The state works hard to make certain that the child is receiving the child support needed. The benefit goes to the parents when the child is getting the support they need.

Parents are encouraged to have a talk with their accountant in order to learn of the tax benefits.

ATTORNEYS AND MEDIATORS

By hiring an attorney more in depth information can be learned about the situation. Hiring a lawyer in Florida can be helpful in order to make certain the person is going in to the support case with all eyes open and aware of the options.

There is also online information available. Just remember that in order to be fully prepared hiring an attorney may be the next best move to protecting your assets and keeping the child first.

With the help of the Internet there are calculators which help in figuring out how much you may receive and how much is possible overdue. The Internet, however, can never fully assess your personal situation. Hiring an attorney, you can share the specific information about your situation.

Remembering that you and the other parent are in a lifelong commitment to the child is going to be the best goal of putting the child first and not the divorce. The divorce becomes a secondary item on the list of what is important. By keeping a sound mind and the ability to communicate, only then can agreements be made. The divorce attorney you choose will assist in making certain that the child custody and child support are front and center.