Florida Child Support Law

Child support is a legal duty paid by both parents. The amount of child support that the one parent pays to the other parent is determined by the Florida Child Support Guidelines. There is a formula that is used to calculate the amount of child support to be paid by both the parents. The child(ren) have the right to be supported by both parents. It is important that the proper numbers are input so that the correct child support is obtained.

The child support is not for the personal use of the receiving parent. It is the child(ren)’s money and is to be used for their use only. The parents that are involved in the divorce/paternity action do not have the right to waive child support.

When calculating the proper child support amounts there are a number of factors to consider that affects the child support that is actually Ordered by the court. Some of those issues are: the amount of overnights that each parent has the child(ren); The financial needs of the child(ren) such as day care expenses, medical/dental insurance, uninsured medical payments, the income of both parents.

One of the main issues to consider in regards to child support is the amount of overnights that the non-custodial parent has the child(ren) in his/her custody. If the non-custodial parent has forty percent or more of the overnights during the course of the year (146 overnights) then the guidelines are calculated differently and a reduction of the non-custodial parents obligation. It is important to secure a timesharing schedule with your child(ren) that is as close to a fifty percent number of overnights as possible.

How the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program Can Help You

The Florida Child Support Enforcement Program is administered by the Florida Department of Revenue. They provide a number of services to families that need assistance with child support throughout Florida. There are only two counties in which an alternative organization handles child support services: Miami-Dade County (child support matters are handled by the State Attorney’s Office) and Manatee County (child support matters are handled by the Manatee County Clerk of Court).

Contact the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program for help with any of the following matters related to child support:

Determining Paternity
If you had a child out of wedlock and are not sure who the father is or need to establish legal paternity, the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program can help you. In Florida, there are five ways to establish paternity: marriage, acknowledgement of paternity, administrative order based on genetic testing, court order and legitimation. The Florida Child Support Enforcement Program can assist with all of these methods of determining paternity.

Establishing Child Support Orders
If you do not have a child support order in place, the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program can assist you with applying for court-ordered child support. You must have a child support order through the courts for child support payments to be a legal obligation. It is the goal of the Child Support Enforcement Program to get both parents to agree to the amount of child support based on state guidelines that are in place to help determine appropriate amounts of child support.

Enforcing Child Support Orders
The Florida Child Support Enforcement Program can help enforce child support orders by suspending the offender’s licenses (professional, driver, hunting, fishing, etc.), denying a passport, issuing an income deduction order, intercepting money (IRS tax refunds, lottery winnings, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, insurance settlements, etc.), placing liens against property and freezing financial accounts. When all else fails, a negligent parent may be arrested.

Modifying Child Support Orders
Over time, financial and life circumstances change and child support orders need to be modified. Either parent may request a review of an existing support order. For a support order to change, either parent’s financial situation must have changed enough to create at least a 10 percent difference in monthly child support. Generally, a parent must wait at least three years to seek a child support modification.

Child Support vs. Visitation Rights

The issues of child support and child visitation (time sharing) are two separate and distinct matters. If a parent is not paying his/her child support as Ordered, the custodial parent must continue to allow the other parent his/her visitation (time sharing) rights. On the other hand, if the one parent is not allowing the visitation that is Ordered in a particular case the other parent must continue to pay child support. It is the child’s right to be supported and the actions or inaction of one or both parents should not affect that right.

Modifications of Child Support

Martin-Schwartz Family Law can help you determine if you will be able to modify your child support.

Modification of child support is always possible. But there must be a substantial and material change in circumstances in the income, usually of the parent who is paying the child support. It is important that the guidelines are properly calculated from the beginning. Modifications are possible but can be costly considering attorneys’ fees and costs. Full financial disclosure is necessary, including mandatory disclosure. There is the possibility that the application of the child support Guidelines on its own will warrant a Modification of the court Ordered child support.

We Know Father’s Rights in Child Support. Martin-Schwartz Family Law has experience in handling child support matters in Miami-Dade County and other counties in South Florida. We assist our clients with their initial child support calculations as well as modification of existing Orders.

Martin-Schwartz Family Law serves clients in Florida and Texas.