Child support in Florida can be a complex and confusing topic, especially for parents who have never gone through the process before. It's important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a parent when it comes to child support in Florida so that you can make informed decisions.
The first step to becoming informed, however, is having a basic understanding of some of the most important child support issues. We often get similar questions from our clients that revolve around these fundamental issues, which is why we’ve prepared answers to those questions below.
Who Administers Child Support in Florida?
The Department of Revenue administers the Child Support Program in Florida, which helps families establish paternity (if needed), set up child support orders, collect payments, enforce court orders, modify existing orders when necessary, and review cases regularly for accuracy. The goal of this program is to ensure that both parents are financially responsible for supporting their children.
How Are Child Support Payments Established?
When establishing child support in Florida, several factors are taken into consideration such as both parents' incomes, the number of overnight stays for each parent, healthcare costs, and other expenses related to raising a child. The court will also consider any alimony or spousal support payments that either parent is receiving.
It's important to note that while there are guidelines that can be used to calculate the amount of child support due from each party, the court has the authority to make adjustments based on individual circumstances.
Is It Only Dads Who Pay Child Support?
No, it’s not only dads who pay child support. It all depends on the specific situation and which parent has primary custody of the child or children involved.
Regardless of whether it is a dad or mom making payments, both parents are responsible for financial help with their children's needs. This includes providing clothing, food, medical expenses, and educational needs. Even if you don't have court-ordered custody and visitation rights, you may still be obligated to pay child support if your name appears on your state's birth certificate as being the legal parent of the child or children in question. Remember that regardless of gender roles in parenting, when determining responsibility for financial support, it's all about the best interest of the child.
Can I Ever Change a Child Support Order?
Child support orders can be modified if circumstances have changed significantly since it was first established. This could include an increase or decrease in income or changes to parenting time arrangements, but whatever change has occurred must be significant. If you need help understanding your rights when it comes to child support in Florida, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney.
How Long Does Child Support Last?
Typically, parents pay child support until their children reach 18 years old or graduate from high school (whichever occurs later). However, exceptions can be made if the court decides that extended child support may be necessary due to special needs or other extenuating circumstances. In these cases, with proper documentation and approval from the court, an adult age 21 can receive continued support.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay Child Support?
If you fail to pay court-ordered child support in Florida, serious penalties can apply. The courts may file a Notice of Nonpayment against you. This document will be sent to any state or federal agency that administers payment records and inform them of your failure to pay child support. As a result, they may take action such as withholding funds from your tax refunds or suspending your driver's license until the debt is paid off.
The court also has the authority to garnish your wages if it finds you are not paying child support regularly. A wage garnishment order is an instruction to your employer requiring them to deduct money from each paycheck and send it directly to the court. The amount withheld depends on how much is owed in back payments.
In some cases, the court may also impose a jail sentence if you are found guilty of not paying child support for an extended period of time. The length of the sentence will depend on the amount of unpaid child support and other factors. In Florida, individuals who fail to pay at least $5,000 in court-ordered child support can be sentenced up to five years in prison.
What Should I Do If I Need Help with Child Support?
If you are in Florida and need help with regard to child support, a family law attorney is an ideal person to contact. They can help you understand your legal rights when it comes to determining child support payments, making sure payments are received on time, and enforcing any agreements or judgments related to the issue.
Additionally, your attorney can provide advice if any issues arise regarding modification, enforcement, or collection of child support. If you wish to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your legal situation, Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. can help.
Contact us today to learn more about our legal services.