In the State of Florida, Child Support is defined as a court-ordered obligation pertaining to the financial responsibilities for a child’s care, maintenance, training and education. Florida Child Support is codified under Florida Child Support Law 39.01, and enforced under chapter 61 (ss. 409.2551-409.2597).
Under the State of Florida Child Support Guidelines, each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his/her minor or legally dependent child. It is the responsibility of each parent, regardless of whether the two parents are married, divorced, or single. Under the state’s child support law, parents cannot waive child support payment obligations. Parents of a minor child have a legal and moral duty to aid and maintain their child.
The amount of child support is calculated on the basis of Florida’s Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines schedule is based on the parent’s combined net income estimated to have been allocated to the child as if the parents and children were living in an intact household. The Guidelines outline the amount of assistance to be paid for each specific case.
The court strictly enforces the Florida Child Support Guidelines. The judge can choose to deviate from the Guidelines as per the requirements of the circumstances. If the recurring income is not sufficient to meet the needs of the child, the court may order child support to be paid from non-recurring income or assets.
Who Qualifies for Child Support Payments in Florida?
The custodial parent qualifies for child support payment in Florida. The custodial parent is entitled to receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent under Florida family law. The custodial parent is the one with whom the child primarily resides.
How Are Child Support Payments Calculated in Florida?
Child Support Payments are calculated in Florida by following an “income shares model”. The courts attempt to estimate the amount of money the parents would have spent on their children if they remained together and were not divorcing. This amount is then divided between the two parents, based on their incomes.
Florida courts look to the Florida Child Support Guidelines, found at Florida Statute 61.30, for guidance in crafting a child support order. The amount of support determined under the statute is a presumptive amount. This means that, in most circumstances, the court must order the amount provided for in the guidelines.
The court is allowed to set a child support amount that is either five percent above or five percent below the guidelines amount. If the court wants to set a child support amount more than five percent, it must add an explanation for such addition.
In Florida, the payment amount is determined by the combined monthly net income of both parents. Net income is determined by deducting costs like taxes from gross income. Gross income comprises commissions, bonuses, allowances, tips, disability, workers’ compensation, Social Security, spousal support, retirement payments, rental income, royalties, trust income, and property earnings.
The net income of both parents is compared to the Florida Child Support Guidelines chart. This chart shows the monthly costs of supporting six children at each income level.
Child support payments are decided on a case by case basis, if the parent’s income is less than the amount suggested by the chart. An increase in pay results in increase in child support payments. If both parents’ net income exceeds $10,000 per month, the excess is multiplied by a percentage based on the couple’s number of children. 5% for one child, 7.5 percent for two. This amount is added to the chart-recommended child support.
Once the child support need is determined, each parent’s individual net monthly income is divided by the combined net monthly income. The resulting percentage is multiplied by the monthly child support need to determine the dollar amount that a parent is responsible for.
The court can alter child support payments based on any of the following circumstances. These are:
- Special needs involving a child’s disability
- Medical and psychological needs
- The child’s age
In addition to child support, courts might require one or both parents to pay for specific expenses. These expenses include all of the following.
- Health care insurance
- Dental insurance
- Day care costs
- Education costs
Sometimes the expenses above are shared by the parents. The court may mandate that each parent pays for some expenditures but not others. One parent may pay for education and day care while the other pays medical insurance.
How is Net Income Determined for Each Parent?
Under Florida’s child support law, the parents’ net income is calculated by taking the total gross income of both parents and subtracting certain allowed expenses. Under 61.30(2)(a), gross income includes things like pay, wages, bonuses, commissions, pension and retirement benefits, and social security benefits.
To calculate net income for child support purposes, the court examines the combined net income of the parents and determines the portion that would have been allocated to the child if they were living together as a family unit (Florida Statute §61.29).
To arrive at a net income figure, it is important to find the gross income for each parent. Gross income, under Florida law, includes, but is not necessarily limited to the following items:
- Salary or wages.
- Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
- Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. Business income means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
- Disability benefits.
- All workers compensation benefits and settlements.
- Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation.
- Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
- Social Security benefits.
- Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
- Interest and dividends
- Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
- Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
- Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
- Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
Net income, for purposes of calculating child support, is obtained by taking the parents’ gross income and subtracting “allowable deductions”.
All of the following are allowable deductions under Florida statute Under Florida Statute §61.30(3)
- Federal, state, and local income tax deductions, adjusted for actual filing status and allowable dependents and income tax liabilities.
- Federal insurance contributions or self-employment tax.
- Mandatory union dues.
- Mandatory retirement payments.
- Health insurance payments, excluding payments for coverage of the minor child.
- Court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid.
- Spousal support paid pursuant to a court order from a previous marriage or the marriage before the court.
What is categorized as Income When Calculating Child Support Payments?
There is a wide range of income types included in the child support calculation by the court. Payments a parent receives from almost any source are likely to be considered income for child support calculation purposes. The following are examples of income sources that Florida courts consider when calculating net income for child support purposes.
- Employment salary
- Overtime wages
- Commissions and bonuses from employment
- Unemployment compensation
- Business income
- Income received from trusts
- Rental income
- Social Security
- Pension payments
- Annuity payments
What is Categorized as Expenses When Calculating Child Support Payments?
In Florida, expenses that are deducted from a parent’s net income for child support payment purposes include taxes, educational expenses, child care cost, health insurance, and employment-related daycare costs.
The court may adjust the minimum child support or either parent’s part based on these deviations:
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses.
- Independent income of the child, not to include money received by a child from supplemental security income.
- The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need.
- Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses.
- The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
- Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the presumptive amount established by the guidelines.
- Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.
- The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order a parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the paying parent is current in support payments.
- An application of the child support guidelines schedule that requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order.
Child support rarely covers extra expenses. Thus, parents must decide who will pay for extracurricular activities, field excursions, summer camp, and others. If parents can’t agree, the judge decides.
How is Child Support Calculated for High Income Parents?
Child Support Calculations for High Income Parents are limited. When the parents’ combined monthly income exceeds the support tables, they pay the minimum amount of support plus an additional amount.
If the combined monthly net income of the parents exceeds the guidelines schedule i.e. $10,000, the excess income is multiplied by a percentage based on the number of children and added to the base amount.
- One Child: 5 Percent
- Two Children: 7.5 Percent
- Three Children: 9.5 Percent
- Four Children: 11 Percent
- Five Children: 12 Percent
- Six Children: 12.5 Percent
In high-income instances, the Court might increase or decrease support. If child support doesn’t cover the child’s needs, it might be increased.
Is There a Florida Child Support Calculator?
Yes, there is a Florida child support calculator available at the website listed below. https://floridachildsupportcalculator.com/calculator
The following information is needed to use the child support calculator.
- The number of children being considered for child support.
- The net monthly income for each Parent.
- Childcare costs paid by each parent.
- Health Insurance payments made by each parent.
- Dental/Vision insurance paid by each parent.
- Other support obligations, if any, of each parent.
What Factors Are Considered When Determining Child Support Payments?
The factors considered when determining child support in Florida are Income of Parents, Number of children, Standard of Living, Healthcare Expenses, Time Sharing Arrangement or Custody Schedule, Childcare or Daycare, Special Needs of the Child or Children and Educational Expenses.
- Income of parents
- Number of children
- Standard of Living
- Healthcare Expenses
- Time Sharing Arrangement or Custody Schedule
- Childcare or Daycare
- Special Needs of the Child or Children
- Educational Expenses
Income of Parents
In Florida, the income of both parents are examined to determine child support payments. Florida’s income-shares model determines child support. Under the income sharing approach, courts estimate how much parents would have spent on their children if they hadn’t divorced. Based on income, the parents split this amount.
Gross income is one of the deciding factors. Gross income includes wages, bonuses, salaries, overtime pay, and commissions. The pay may come from a corporation, disability benefits, partnerships, alimony payments from another marriage, retirement, annuity payments, rental income, social security income, and more. If a parent is underemployed or unemployed, minimum wage income may be imputed for that parent.
For example, if the parties have a net income of $2,000, the guidelines state $442 in support will be granted for one child, $686 for two children, $859 for three children, and so on.
Tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and other documentation verify parents’ income.
After verifying income, the jurisdiction’s laws are applied to compute child support. These formulas take into account both parents’ income, the number of children, child custody, and medical expenses.
The court may change or deviate from the conventional computation in certain instances. The court may alter child support payment amounts if a parent has significant financial obligations or unusual expenses.
Can I Obtain Child Support from an Unemployed Parent?
Yes, it is possible to obtain child support from an unemployed parent by imputing the monthly income to an unemployed or underemployed parent if the court determines that the parent’s unemployment or underemployment is voluntary. If the court determines that the parent is physically or mentally incapacitated, or if there are other circumstances over which the parent has no control, the imputation is prevented.
In the event of voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the parent’s employment potential and probable earnings level are determined based on his or her recent work history, occupational qualifications, and the prevailing earnings level in the community, if available.
If a parent chooses to become or remain unemployed, the state may base the child support payment on the parent’s most recent compensation, or if none, the state’s minimum wage may be “imputed” as the parent’s most recent salary. Therefore, even if the parent is no longer employed, he or she will continue to be legally obligated to make support payments.
If the parent is unemployed, benefits are based on recent income or qualifications and ability to work. Until a parent finds work, child support may be dependent on unemployment benefits.
Unemployed or underemployed parents can have their income imputed. If proven, the parent must pay support based on imputed salary. Imputation cases consider the parent’s employment history, credentials, and community income.
A former wife’s income was imputed by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal in a child support dispute. If one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the state’s divorce legislation imputes income.The custody parent, the ex-wife, stated she had unsuccessfully sought employment. After evaluating her work history, the appeals court found her “voluntarily unemployed.” The court therefore ordered that income be imputed to her for purposes of the calculation of the amount of child support to be paid by her former husband.
Income is automatically imputed to a parent if they fail to participate in child support proceedings or fail to provide adequate financial information and a rebuttable presumption that the parent earns the median salary of year-round full-time workers based on US Census population statistics or replacement reports.
However, the court may refuse to impute income to a parent if the court finds it necessary for that parent to stay home with the child.
The following items may not be used to impute a parent’s income.
- Income records that are more than 5 years old at the time of the hearing or trial at which imputation is sought; or
- Income at a level that a party has never earned in the past, unless recently degreed, licensed, certified, relicensed, or recertified and thus qualified for, subject to geographic location, with due consideration of the parties’ existing time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.
Number of Children
Under Florida Child Support Law 61.30 (Chapter 61), the number of children involved in the case is another factor taken into consideration when calculating child support payments. If there are two children in the case, each parent will usually pay half of the child support. If there are three children, one parent may be ordered to pay a larger portion depending on their incomes and other factors.
The example below demonstrates the calculation of child support in a case with 2 children. One spouse has $2,000 net monthly income. Second spouse earns $1,500. The total net income is $3,500. The number of children equal a $1,149 monthly child support requirement under the 2022 Florida Child Support Guidelines.
The court assign a percentage of the obligation to each parent. This involves taking individual net income, dividing it by the combined net income, and multiplying the result by the total child support obligation:
($2,000 / $3,500) x $1,149 = $656.57 = 57%
The spouse’s monthly obligation would be:
($1,500 / $3,500) x $1,149 = $492.43 = 43%
Under Florida Child Support Law 61.30 (6),the guidelines schedule chart is laid out to be applied to the combined net income to determine the minimum child support needed for the number of children.
Standard of Living
In Florida, the court considers the standard of living the child was experiencing before the divorce when calculating child support payments. The court ensures that this standard of living is not impacted after the divorce.
While determining child support, Courts aim to provide children enough financial means to meet their basic necessities and maintain a standard of living as they would if their parents had stayed together. This includes considering factors such as housing, food, clothing, education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.
The court evaluates both parents’ income and spending to set a standard of living. The custodial parent receives child support from the noncustodial parent, who does not have primary custody. Child support usually depends on both parents’ income, the number of children, and other considerations.
The goal is to guarantee that children’s financial requirements are supplied properly so that they may retain their stability and continue to participate in activities that benefit their overall development. Child support payments help children thrive by maintaining a constant quality of living and minimising any negative impact that may occur from their parents’ separation or divorce.
Time Sharing Arrangement or Child Custody Schedule
In Florida, the time–sharing arrangement is used interchangeably with child custody. The child custody schedule affects the calculation of child support payments. In Florida courts, the term “time sharing” is used instead of “custody” when referring to the arrangements for parental responsibilities and visitation with children after divorce or separation.‘Timesharing,’ rather than ‘custody,’ is the more common term used in Florida. Unless it is found that timesharing will be detrimental to the children, both parents will share time with the kids.
The time-sharing arrangement or shared custody schedule affects the calculation of child support payments. When a parent shares more than a certain number of overnights each year with the child, the courts consider it. It also means that the parent exercises more than a certain amount of overnights per year. Child support is then calculated according to a gross-up method, which does greatly affect the amount of child support.
In determining Child Support Time sharing arrangement plays a prominent roles because the Florida Statutes allow for a reduction in child support if the paying parent has the child for more than 20% of the nights in a year. 20% is equivalent to 73 nights over the course of a year. Each night above 73 will provide a slightly greater reduction of the parent’s child support obligation. The reason for this is that the legislature felt that parents who spent a sizable amount of time with their children had greater costs when compared to parents who rarely saw their children.
For instance, a parent who spends 90 nights with the kids will generally contribute less child support than if the children spend 80 nights with them. All things being equal, the more overnights spent with the children, the greater the costs of taking care of the children. If a parent spend more overnights with the kids, he/she is invariably paying more towards their maintenance. As such, he/she is entitled to a modification of the child support.
It should be noted that a parent only qualify for a potential reduction if he/she spend more ‘overnights,’ not days. For instance: Annie is a parent that sees the kids five (5) days a week after school. The kids spend two (2) nights per week with Annie. Annie can only factor the two nights into the calculation of child support reduction. Nights spent during Spring break, Christmas break, as well as on birthdays and other holidays will also be put into consideration.
In some instances, the parents may have an equal amount of overnights per year (equal timesharing). In such cases, the child support is calculated according to the guidelines and the parents’ income. Health insurance, daycare costs, medical expenses not covered by insurance are some other factors that may be put into consideration.
‘Timesharing,’ rather than ‘custody,’ is the more common term used in Florida. Unless it is found that timesharing will be detrimental to the children, both parents will share time with the kids.
When a child sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of parents states that each child will spend a substantial amount of time with each parent, the court may change a child support decision in the following ways:
- The amount of support obligation is apportioned to each parent without including day care and health insurance costs in the calculation and amount multipled by 1.5.
- Calculate the percentage of overnight stays the child spends with each parent.
Consider each parent’s time-sharing when calculating the basic monthly responsibility. Use the baseline monthly obligation for less 20% (less than 73 nights annually). If both parents share at least 20% (73+ nights), multiply the basic duty by 1.5 to account for two households’ needs and utilize this amount. Multiply each parent’s financial contribution by their responsibility percentage. Calculate each parent’s portion.
Healthcare or Health Insurance
“Healthcare and health insurance costs are a factor when calculating child support payments in Florida.”
Health insurance costs under section 61.13(1)(b), as well as any uninsured medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses incurred by the child, are added to the basic obligation, unless these expenses have been ordered to be paid separately on a percentage basis. Any money prepaid by a parent for health-related costs for the child or children of this action shall be deducted from that parent’s child support obligation for that child or those children after the health insurance costs have been added to the basic obligation.
Childcare or Daycare
Child care expenses are a factor in determining child support Payments. This includes any expenses incurred as a consequence of a parent’s employment, job search, or education calculated to result in employment or enhance the income of the parent’s current employment are added to the basic obligation. Any money paid by a parent for child care costs for the child or children are deducted from that parent’s child support obligation. Costs for licensed child care cannot exceed the minimum level required to provide quality care.
Special Needs of the Children
According to Florida law, the court may modify the total minimum child support award, or either parent’s or both parents’ share of the total minimum child support award, based on extraordinary medical or psychological expenses. Special needs, such as costs associated with a child’s disability that have traditionally been met within the family budget, even though meeting those needs would cause the support to exceed the guidelines’ presumptive amount.
For Example: The divorce court can mandate child support beyond 18 for disabled children. Due to mental or physical infirmity, the child must be considered a dependency. Florida law requires mental or physical disability to begin before 18. The Court must be informed of the results to include child support decrees in the final papers. This must happen before special-needs child turns 18, when Florida law terminates child support.
In Thyre v. Thyre, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s child support award because the trial court did not consider whether a trust fund established for an autistic child met all of the child’s requirements. The court in Thyre reversed its decision because it is evident that the child has greater needs due to his age and autism, and because there was no evidence that the child’s trust fund fulfils all of his needs.
Educational Expenses of the Children
Under Florida Law, educational expenses can also be considered as an additional factor in determining child support payments.
Tuition for private school, literature, school supplies, uniforms, transportation, and extracurricular activities are examples of educational expenses. If the child has special educational requirements or attends an expensive school, these factors may also be considered.
The court may deviate from the standard calculation in order to account for educational expenses. To determine whether an adjustment is necessary, the court will consider the child’s educational requirements, the parents’ financial capabilities, and any other pertinent factors. It is essential to provide proof and documentation of educational costs incurred.
To ensure that the child receives a quality education, the non-custodial parent may also be required to pay for tuition, literature, school supplies, and fees associated with extracurricular activities.
In Florida, parents are not required to pay for the college education of their children. A judge cannot require a parent to continue paying child support beyond the conclusion of the school year in which the child turns 18 (Unless Special needs require so).
In determining the needs of a child, section 61.30(11)(a) allows Florida courts to adjust a child support award based on “deviation factors” such as extraordinary medical or educational expenses or the special needs of a child.
When is Child Support Calculated?
In Florida, Child Support Payments are calculated when child custody is arranged during the divorce proceedings. The state of Florida permits the collection of child support prior to the filing date of the child support application, between the date of separation and the effective date of the child support order.
Both parents are officially responsible for taking care of their children in the state of Florida. Before a divorce or child support order is finalised, the court is likely to order the parent who doesn’t have custody of the children to pay a part of the costs related to the children. One example is when a divorce goes on for months and months, and the parent who has custody of the children has to pay for day care and other regular costs for the children during that time. The non-custodial parent is required to provide for their kids. While a divorce is pending in Florida, the custodial parent may request interim or temporary child support from the other parent.
When a Florida divorce is finalized, interim child support motions function according to the exact same legal rules as decisions about permanent child support. The rules in Florida are known as “the guidelines.”
What is Temporary Child Support?
Temporary child support is a tool used by the courts to provide financial assistance to the child while the parents are in a legal dispute. Temporary child support works the same way as permanent child support in a Florida divorce. Florida “guidelines” determine child support.
It was mentioned in Burkhart v. Burkhart, 620 So.2d 225, 226 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) that Child support guidelines are applicable to temporary support orders.
Courts realize there is a time gap between the initial dispute when the parents’ divorce or separate and when the final decree decision is made in court. Temporary support orders are enforceable in the same manner as the final support orders. Therefore, if a parent fails to follow a temporary order, he or she can be held in contempt of court and face charges or penalties for refusing to fulfill his or her obligation.
During the divorce procedure, temporary child support is issued to ensure that children’s needs continue to be met. They remain in effect until the final divorce decree imposes a permanent child support order.
During the pendency of a Florida divorce proceeding, the custodial parent may request temporary child support from the other parent. The custodial parent must reveal their income to the court and the other parent in order to receive temporary child support.
The following documents must be served on the other party in any process for temporary financial relief hearing within 45 days of the initial pleading or during any extension of mandatory disclosure granted by the court or agreed to by the parties:
- A financial affidavit that substantially follows Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902.
- If the party earns less than $50,000, or Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902.
- If the annual total income of the party is $50,000 or more. The parties cannot waive this requirement. Additionally, the affidavit must be submitted with the court.
Before discovery, a dissolution action often requires a temporary support order. As stated in Dent v. Dent, 851 So.2d 819, 821 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003), these orders are generally predicated on a brief hearing and inadequate evidence due to their urgency.
Temporary child support orders are often affected by the fact that the children still live in the home the other spouse is paying for. An absent parent who pays child support obligations will receive a credit.
Temporary child support orders are changed if the court receives more accurate income and parenting schedule information.
Temporary support orders also expire. While litigation continues, the circuit court can modify or vacate them. If further evidence shows that a temporary support order is inequitable or based on erroneous calculations, the final judgment can usually rectify any inequity after a fair hearing.
Child support is frequently awarded months after the motion for temporary child support is filed. The court retroactively award temporary child support from when the motion was filed.
Florida divorce courts award retroactive support where there is a need for child support and an ability to pay as declared in Leventhal v. Leventhal, 885 So.2d 919 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004).
What is Retroactive Child Support?
In Florida, Retroactive child support is when the parent who has custody of the child collects child support before the date that the child support order goes into effect. Retroactive child support is calculated between the date of separation and the date that the child support order goes into effect. Retroactive child support is added to court-ordered child support under Chapter 61 of Florida Statutes (Section 13 (61.13)). The non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent retrospective child support for caring for their child while a child support petition is ongoing. The non-custodial parent’s child support is backdated to offset the custodial parent’s expenses during this period.
Florida law places a 24-month cap on retroactive child support payments. For example, if a judge mandates retroactive child support payments on July 1, 2020, they may only date back to July 1, 2018. The quantity of retroactive child support payments is determined using the child support guidelines factors. This is true even if the parent was technically eligible for child support for several additional years but did not seek a court order to enforce that entitlement. Due to the existence of this maximum, custodial parents must act expeditiously to obtain a legitimate child support order.
Florida courts cannot order retroactive child support prior to the child’s birth unless the child is younger than 2 years old. Retroactive child support only covers the period of separation between the parents.
An unmarried, noncustodial parent may have to pay back child support and maybe some of the labor and pregnancy expenses for up to two years. A mother who had a child out of wedlock can seek retroactive child support when the child is eleven, but only for two years. Past-due child support is court-ordered but payed by the parent, unlike retroactive child support. Retroactive child support is past due when imposed yet unpaid.
Once the child support order has been finalized in a lengthy divorce, it will reflect any payments designated as retroactive child support.
In Florida, the amount of retroactive child support may be limited in certain situations, such as the following circumstances.
- The non-custodial is unable to pay due to financial reasons, a physical illness, or a medical condition
- The custodial parent had no need for child support during the period in question
If the noncustodial parent paid some support from the time of separation until the time of the final divorce and child support orders, the court may deduct the amount already paid from the amount of the retroactive payments after determining how far back the retroactive payments will go. The objective is to ensure that both parents pay their equitable share and that neither parent pays more than the law requires.
Retroactive child support is mandatory but only back to the motion for temporary child support as declared in Wertheim v. Wertheim, 667 So.2d 331, 332 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995).
Retroactive child support orders allow lump-sum or installment payments. Florida family law courts are usually flexible on this topic. Courts help parents reach a fair financial agreement.
When Do Child Support Payments End in Florida?
Child support payments legally end in Florida when a minor child is no longer considered a minor and parents no longer are responsible for their direct care under the law.
In Florida, children become adults at the age of 18. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, child support is no longer a legal requirement at this age.
1. Child support ends when a judge emancipates a kid.
2. Child support ends when a child dies, marries, or joins armed forces.
The following are three exceptions to the rule of when child support payments legally end in Florida.
- If a child is 18 and still in high school and is expected to graduate on or before their 19th birthday, child support is paid until the child graduates. For example, if a child turns 18 in February and graduates a few months later in June, child support would end when the child graduates in June.
- If a child has a serious physical or mental condition before the age of 18 that prevents them from living independently, working, or being educated or trained to earn a living, child support is required until the condition improves. To get a continuation, a child support modification petition must be filed before the child’s 8th birthday. A court will never order child support once a child turns 8.
- A child over 18 who attends college or university as a legal dependent is another extenuating circumstance.
Unless parents agree in writing, most states do not provide child support for college students. Florida allows exceptions. Each case is assessed individually and must be petitioned for adjustment before age 8.
What Methods are used to Establish Child Support in a Florida Divorce?
The following methods used to establish child support under Florida divorce laws.
- mediation – where a trained professional helps them to establish child support payment,
- Collaboration – where parents with their individual attorneys reach mutually agreeable child support agreements.
- parenting coordination – where a parenting coordinator educates, advises, and makes restricted court-ordered decisions to help parents design or implement a parenting plan.
- Settlement Negotiations – where parties negotiate out-of-court settlement resulting in a contract.
- Litigation at Trial – where both the parents plead in court and after hearing both the parties, court passes a judgement which is binding on both the parties and not adhering to it has rigorous consequences.
Child Custody Mediation
In Florida, mediation is a method to establish child support in which a neutral, trained professional meets with both spouses to help them determine fair and equitable child support payments. Using mediation as a method to resolve child support payments is codified in chapter 61.183 of the Florida statutes.
Mediation is used to determine and negotiate child support by assisting both parties to mutually agree on what child support covers and does not. The Parents negotiate a higher guideline of support if it covers extracurricular activities. In some cases both parties end up paying zero dollars child support. Parents owe Zero dollar child support if both parents have a similar income, share expenses for extracurricular and other activities of the child, and split time with the child at around a 50/50 breakdown. This outcome is not possible in court.
Several criteria determine child support in mediation. For instance, each parent’s time with the child, ability to pay, and child needs are taken into consideration. Non-compliance with a child support agreement can lead to legal consequences such as non-custodial parent can be charged with a felony if they have $2,500 in past-due child support and haven’t paid for four months in a row, or if they have been guilty of not paying before, or if they try to leave the state to avoid paying child support.
Mediation is confidential, except when mandated by law. Mediation provides parties more control over their case, speeds up resolution, and reduces divorce costs.
Family mediation helps couples settle their divorce to save money, time, and stress. Divorce mediation has advantages and drawbacks, depending on the situation.
What Are the Advantages of Child Support Mediation?
The following are advantages of using mediation to settle child support disputes.
- Costs less than court procedures
- Opportunity to adapt a strategy as per needs of child, co-parent, and yourself.
- Faster dispute resolution than courts
- Both parents have greater say than in court.
What Are the Disadvantages Child Support Mediation?
The following are disadvantages of using mediation to resolve child support disputes.
- Both sides must agree to all terms and conditions.
- Mediation results may not be legally binding.
- Modifying a child custody or visitation order may require court permission before the modifications may be made.
In most cases, the spouses are able to select their mediator, but if they don’t agree on one, the court assigns one. If spouses are assigned a mediator, they are charged based on combined income. If mediation fails, it is referred to as an “impasse,” and the mediator refers parties back to the court.
Collaboration is a method for determining child support that places both spouses and their attorneys on the same side, incentivizing them to find solutions that are mutually acceptable. The Collaborative Law Process Act, authorized by the Florida legislature, strengthens and improves the collaborative process. Less emphasis on divorce and more on child support because there will be an article for collaborative divorce.
Both spouses must agree to a collaborative divorce. After agreeing, each spouse chooses an attorney. Separate lawyers help spouses establish a fair agreement. Even if they disagree, collaborative divorce is best for couples who are ready to compromise. With professional advice, couples can establish a sensible child support solution.
In Florida, child support is typically determined based on state guidelines, regardless of whether the divorce process is collaborative or litigious. Here’s a general overview of how child support is determined in Florida during a collaborative divorce:
- The couple appoint collaborative solicitors trained in the collaborative law process. Each spouse has a separate attorney. An advocate cannot ethically represent both parties in a divorce. Each party must appoint an advocate.
- The spouses confer separately with their respective advocate. During this meeting, each spouse presents ideas for an amicable divorce resolution. The spouse discusses parental plan and child support preferences.
- Both parents disclose their entire financial situation, including income, assets, and liabilities. This data is essential for calculating child support. The Income Shares Model is used for calculating child support in Florida. This model takes into account the incomes of both parents, the number of children involved, and other pertinent factors. The child support guidelines in Florida provide a formula for calculating the fundamental child support obligation.
- In a collaborative divorce, parents can deviate from the guidelines if they consent to different child support arrangements. They may also evaluate the child’s special needs, healthcare costs, educational expenses, and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents remained together.
- Parents negotiate child support terms with the assistance of their attorneys and other professionals. They discuss various options, propose deviations from the guidelines, and come up with a solution that meets the requirements of the child while taking each parent’s financial situation into account.
- The spouses and solicitors sign a collaborative divorce contract that outlines the process and disqualifies the lawyers if a decision cannot be reached. This contract may require the parties to “collaborate” on the divorce and provide guidelines for participation.
- The solicitors and spouses meet jointly. Attorneys represent clients after learning their positions. The attorneys discuss what the couples agree on and what needs to be negotiated to set up the procedure. Spouses may negotiate their legal difficulties at multiple encounters.
- Advisors and consultants are brought in. They help parties address case concerns.
- When parents reach an agreement, they submit it to the court for approval. The court reviews the agreement to ensure it is in the best interests of the child. If the court approves the agreement, it becomes part of the final divorce decree.
Attorneys offer divorce agreements to the court. The judge usually approves and includes the agreement in the divorce decree because the parties collaborated. The Advocate request dismissal if the parties cannot reach an agreement.
Collaboration has advantages and drawbacks, depending on the situation.
What Are the Advantages of Using Collaboration to Resolve Child Support Disputes?
The following are advantages of using collaboration to resolved child suppport disputes.
- More Peaceful – the collaborative process offers a more positive and peaceful alternative to litigated cases.
- Greater Privacy – Negotiations during this process are kept confidential.
- More Predictable Outcomes – rather than having a court decide issues, spouses are involved in the negotiations, so there are fewer surprises.
- Less Formal – the collaborative process can occur in a more informal setting where the spouses feel more comfortable.
- Saves Time – Collaborative divorce can help speed up the divorce process. The spouses control when the divorce process concludes.
- Greater control over results – Instead of a judge, parties discuss child support, custody, and asset partition.
- Less adversarial – Spouses are not interrogated by the other party’s attorney.
- Discovery moves faster: Discovery moves faster when parties cooperate to resolve.
What Are the Disadvantages of Using Collaboration to Resolve Child Support Disputes?
The following are disadvantages of using collaboration to resolved child support disputes.
- Failure Requires Starting Over – Collaborative divorces require new counsel to litigate unresolved issues.
- Requires More Trust – the collaborative process is less effective in situations where one or both spouses are not honest.
- Domestic violence – The judge may reject a collaborative divorce if domestic abuse is alleged.
Collaborative divorce in Florida has many perks. It give parties more control over the outcome and save on attorney bills. The collaborative process supports the peaceful resolution of disputes and early resolution of pending litigation through voluntary settlement procedures.
Under Florida statutes 61.125 (1), parenting coordination is a method to determine or negotiate child support in Florida divorce. It is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution. A parenting coordinator helps parents create or implement a parenting plan by providing education, making recommendations, and making limited decisions within the court’s order of referral. Parenting coordinators help parents set their children’s schedules without a court order.
In the method of Parenting coordination mental health or legal professionals with mediation training and experience help high-conflict parents implement their parenting plan by facilitating the timely resolution of their disputes, educating parents about children’s needs, and making decisions within the court order or appointment contract with prior approval of the parties and/or the court.
Parenting coordinators meet with each family member individually and in groups, mediate parent disagreements, provide counselling, establish plans and suggestions, and write detailed court reports. The coordinator’s main purpose is to understand the family and help parents find a solution that works for them. Rather than specifically determining child support, a parenting coordinator assists parents in resolving disputes regarding parenting issues.
Parenting coordination is advantageous because it facilitates communication, reduces conflict, and provides recommendations regarding parenting issues. Their priority is promoting effective co-parenting and the child’s best interests.
A parenting coordinator can provide guidance and support during the negotiation process, but the actual determination of child support is typically based on the Florida child support guidelines.
There are potential pros and cons to parenting coordination.
What Are the Advantages Of Parenting Coordination?
The following are advantages of using parenting coordination to resolve child support disputes.
- Reduced chances of returning to court.
- Parents get a child-focused outside opinion.
- Parents eliminate conflict by identifying its cause.
- It encourages parents to be more involved with their children.
- The focus shifts to parenting rather than disagreements.
What Are the Disadvantages Of Parenting Coordination?
The following are disadvantages of using parenting coordination to resolve child support disputes.
- PCs can abuse their power. They set the rules, enforce them, and even discipline parents. They can also view parent-to-parent discussions, legal records, and more without a warrant.
- The PC may biased or manipulated. The PC’s prejudice towards one parent could hurt the other parent’s connection with the child. The parent coordinator may reduce one parent’s time with the youngster.
- The PC has financial interest in the conflict. The parent coordinator may take advantage of conflict and extend it.
When parents have difficulty communicating, a third party may be required to intervene. If mediation is ineffective or unsuitable for the situation, parenting coordination may be a viable method for determining child support.
Parenting coordinators assist parents in resolving disagreements and making decisions regarding their children. Typically, the procedure begins after the court issues a custody order, but parents can also use coordination to negotiate a settlement. Parents who are amicable can also benefit from the process whenever they reach a settlement.
Settlement negotiation is a method to determine or negotiate child support payment in Florida divorce, where parties discuss an agreement to a resolve dispute outside of court. Parties negotiate settlements to avoid court. Settlement negotiations can lead to a legally binding contract. The settlement agreement replaces the court processes. Face-to-face, phone, or written settlement negotiations are possible.
Settlement negotiations can take place at any point in a dispute.
- Before filing court proceedings
- Before a hearing
- In rare circumstances, after judgment, if a party has filed an appeal.
Parents may negotiate their child support agreement with or without the assistance of attorneys, if they so choose. Among the issues that must be resolved are: Who is liable? Amount of payment? Any expenses to be covered in addition to essential needs (private school, nursery, college)? Regularity of remittances? Duration of child support payments?
A child support agreement can be reached outside of court in two ways:
1. Using informal settlement negotiations, parents can reach an arrangement.
2. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) technique, such as mediation or collaborative family law.
If parents reach an agreement through negotiation, their lawyer prepare a written agreement. The agreement is called a “settlement agreement.” If child support is part of a divorce, it may be called a “divorce agreement” or “dissolution agreement.”
The written agreement document is submitted to a judge for approval before entry of a formal child support order. The judge ensures that what the parents have agreed to also complies with state guidelines on child support.
During a possible informal court proceeding, the judge will ask questions to ensure that each party understands the terms of the agreement.
If the judge believes the child support agreement is reasonably negotiated, voluntary, and does not violate state guidelines on child support, the agreement will almost always be approved.
Most states make the agreement a court “decree.” Parents and others must follow the agreement or risk legal consequences.
If a child support settlement agreement has become a court order and the payor parent regularly fails to pay on time, the other parent might go to court to enforce the order. If a parent doesn’t pay child support arrears, they could lose their licence, be fined or possibly go to jail.
The primary benefit of settlement negotiations is that the dispute can be resolved outside of court. Court proceedings or Litigation at Trial are costly and time-consuming, it may take a year or more to reach a verdict.
Litigation at Trial
Litigation at Trial is a method to determine or negotiate child support in Florida Support. If negotiation, mediation, or collaboration process fail in Florida, parties can dispute their case in court.
Trial litigation is the process of resolving disputes and filing lawsuits. It entails a series of steps that may result in a trial where a jury decides whether or not the defendant is guilty. The prosecutor employs witnesses and evidence to establish guilt, while the defendant presents his or her own defense. A lawsuit can be mediated at any time prior to or during the trial.
Litigation outcomes vary by case and situation. Litigated divorces decide custody, alimony, child support, and property partition.
What is the Process for Getting Child Support During Divorce Proceedings in Florida?
In Florida, chapter 61 of the Florida statutes discusses the Process for Getting Child Support during Divorce Proceedings. The process of filing child support in Florida is as follows:
Step 1: File for Divorce
Under Chapter 61 of the Florida statutes, a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or a proceeding under s. 61.09 is commenced by filing a petition in the circuit court. A copy of the petition together with a copy of a summons is served upon the other party to the marriage in the same manner as service of papers in civil actions generally.
After the petition is filed, the respondent has to compose and file an answer to the petition. The respondent has 20 days to respond. The answer, which may include a counter-petition, will state whether the other spouse agrees or disagrees with the petition and may contain further evidence. The petitioner responds within 20 days to a counter-petition.
After filing, either party can request child support in Florida.
Step 2: Complete Financial Affidavit
In Florida, Every petition for child support is accompanied by an affidavit which shows the party’s income, allowable deductions, and net income computed in accordance with this section. The affidavit is served at the same time that the petition is served. The respondent includes his or her affidavit with the answer to the petition or as soon thereafter as is practicable, but in any case at least 72 hours prior to any hearing on the finances of either party.
This document contains all relevant financial data, including income, assets, debts, and associated statements. Each party must provide obligatory disclosures and a financial affidavit within 45 days of petition service. Obligatory disclosures include the following documents:
- Income tax returns
- Income Proof
- Credit card statements
- Bank account statements
- Retirement account statements
- Other account statements that reflect debt
Step 3: Attend Mediation
In Florida, mediation is required under the law if an agreement has not yet been reached or there are certain issues with the petition for the dissolution of marriage still. Divorces with children end with a parenting plan. The plan addresses each parent’s role in raising the children, a time-sharing schedule, how to communicate with the children, and which parent will fill out important forms for school, health care, sports teams, camps, etc. Child support depends on a Parenting Plan and timesharing schedule.
Step 4: Attend Hearing (Necessary)
If the parties are unable to reach a definitive agreement on both the financial aspects of the divorce and child-related issues, the case proceed to trial. This case will be heard before a judge, not a jury.
Divorce attorney represents the party’s rights and interests before the judge during the trial. This includes presenting evidence and testimony when appropriate and cross-examining any witnesses who take the stand.
Step 5: Receive Child Support Order
The judge signs the “child support order,” also known as the Final Judgement, after both parties have discussed and agreed on the terms of the divorce.
The court may order either or both parents who owe a duty of support to a child to pay support to the other parent or, if both parents have custody, to a third party in accordance with the child support guidelines established in s. 61.30.
If non-custodial parent in Florida refuses or fails to pay child support, the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) intervenes. Depending on the sort of case, there are a variety of available resources.
How Are Child Support Orders Enforced?
In Florida child support orders are enforced by initiating a motion of civil contempt in court, Florida Child Support Enforcement (CSE), and Florida Department of Revenue. Florida has very strict laws to ensure that noncustodial parents pay child support.
A court order violation is civil contempt. “Motion for civil contempt” is the most usual technique to enforce child support. A parent can file a civil contempt motion alone, with an attorney, or with Florida Child Support Enforcement’s support.
To prove child’s non-custodial parent is in contempt of the child support order, custodial parent must show:
- A judge-signed child support decree
- The non-custodial parent can pay child support but hasn’t.
The judge might rule on contempt and order the other parent to pay back support. The judge may also fine or jail the delinquent parent. The judge might impose many remedies to help custodial parents to collect overdue and future child support once the other parent is found in contempt.
Florida Child Support Enforcement (CSE) help to enforce child support orders with the following services:
- CSE can investigate all Florida financial records, such as bank and money market accounts, to see if delinquent parents have child support cash.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend delinquent parents’ licences and automobile registrations until they pay back support or agree to a payment plan.
- Florida can suspend delinquent parents’ professional, occupational, or recreational licences until they pay back support or agree to a payment plan.
Florida Department of Revenue enforces Title IV-D child support orders. A Florida or other state child support order requires one parent to pay the other for child support. If the obligor parent fails or refuses to pay the child support order as required, the Florida Department of Revenue may take any number of steps to enforce the order.
- Sending late payment reminders to the obligor, advising them of late child support payments;
- Sending withholding notifications to the obligor’s employers and anyone who owe money to him, directing them to withdraw child support payments from his pay checks or salaries and submit them to the Department of Revenue.
The Florida Department of Revenue can execute child support orders from other states. The Department of Revenue needs a copy of the out-of-state child support order or enough information to locate it from the court to enforce it. Although Title IV-D compels states to cooperate in locating absent parents, providing a residential location might help secure support swiftly.
Florida child support is enforced in other states in two ways, administratively, which means through the child support enforcement agency or through the court.
- Parents can try to enforce an order administratively by sending the appropriate paperwork to their local child support enforcement agency, and they can do so just as they would with a North Carolina order. The paying parent, however, has the option to reject this. If so, the agency would need to file the order with the court.
- Register the court order to ensure its enforcement. The other parent has twenty days to file an objection after receiving notice of the order’s registration. If he or she believes that the child support order is invalid or should not be enforced in North Carolina, he or she may object by filing paperwork with the court to request a hearing. If the defendant requests a hearing, the judge must schedule one and notify all parties of the hearing date, time, and location. If the other parent does not request a hearing within twenty days, the order is registered or, as it is called, confirmed.
The Department of Revenue can help Florida parents who are not getting child support from an out-of-state obligor because Title IV-D requires states to cooperate. If the obligor’s address is known, the Department of Revenue and the other state’s enforcement agency arrange and secure payment.
Registering child support orders from other states or those from Florida with an out-of-state obligor is part of the enforcement process.
However, registering the Florida child support order in another state may be necessary if one or both parties leave Florida. The other state can enforce the Florida child support decree.
Child support non-payment can result in penalties for the non-paying parent.
What Happens if a Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support?
In Florida, if a parent refuses to pay child support, the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers can issue a Notice of Delinquency if a parent fails to pay child support within 15 days of the due date and the support has not been paid. If the delinquency and associated fees are not paid within 20 days, a judgment is entered against the parent-obligor.
After the custodial parent files a valid child support order with the Clerk of Courts they have the following two legal options available to them under Florida law.
- Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement (FSCE). The Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement (FSCE) collects and distributes child support payments to avoid conflict between parents. The FSCE has the authority to check financial records of parents to see if they have any funds to pay the delinquency.
The FSCE might request a Revenue Department hearing. These hearings are solely advisory. A court approves these recommendations, making them binding. Either parent can object to the recommendations within a given timeline. If they don’t object, a judge will sign and register the recommendations with the Clerk of Courts.
- File a Civil Contempt. The custodial parent usually sues for civil contempt. In this hearing, the custodial parent must prove that the other parent has stopped paying child support, has the resources to do so, and has an enforceable, valid child support order.
If the non-custodial parent can pay but refuses, criminal charges and contempt of court may be invoked. The court can sentence without a jury. When payments are late for more than a year or exceed $5,000, the federal government may intervene. The federal Office of the Inspector General can penalise or imprison.
Some go out of state assuming Florida can’t enforce the child support decree. The Florida court will file an action to domesticate the decree in any state.
Under Florida law, a few punishments can be levied against the non-custodial parent for not paying child support. Some of the punishments that can be levied against non-custodial parent are Fine, Property liens, Jail time, possible federal charges (misdemeanor or felony), Driver’s license suspension, State-mandated business or professional licence suspension, Credit bureau delinquency warnings, and employer notification
What Are the Consequences for Not Paying Child Support in Florida?
In Florida, the consequences for not paying child support grow depending on how long a parent has not paid child support. For example: After 15 days of non-payment, a parent is served a Notice of Delinquency. Penalties start to apply in after 20 days such as a lien placed against property.
If a parent is found in contempt of a child support order, it may be subject to a variety of court actions and penalties.
- Seize bank account. If parent owes more than $600 or is more than 4 months behind on child support, Florida courts confiscate bank account.
- Garnish wages. For past due and prospective payments, the courts garnish parents’ wages or withhold their checks.
- Seize tax refunds. The courts hold federal and state tax refunds for parents who owe more than $500 in child support.
- Intercept benefits. If a parent receives benefits, such as workers’ compensation, the courts seize them and deduct past-due and upcoming child support payments.
- Driver’s license suspension. The court suspends a parent’s driving privileges until they comply with a payment plan or pay past-due child support.
- Professional license suspension. The court may suspend a professional, occupational, or recreational licence until child support is paid in full or the parent agrees to a payment plan.
- Credit report filing. The courts or state agencies report parent to credit bureaus if they are behind on child support more than 15 days.
- Suspension of professional licenses. If parent is a tradesperson with a professional licence, the courts can suspend it until they pay past due sums or enter a payment plan.
- Seizing of asset. The court may sell parent’s vehicles, real estate, or other property to cover past and future obligations.
- Freezing home equity. To prevent parents from wasting child support money, the court may freeze their home equity line.
- Revocation of Passport. The courts may refer parents owing $2,500 or more in child support to the US Department of State for passport revocation or denial.
- Incarceration. Unpaid child support can land a parent in jail for a year.
When Does Child Support Payment Delinquency Become a Felony in Florida?
In Florida, missed child support payments become a felony charge when someone is past due by 4 months and owes more than $2,500, has already been convicted of failing to pay, and has tried leaving the state to avoid paying child support. A noncustodial parent who refuses to make child support payments in Florida may face a jail sentence of up to 6 months and will not receive a jury trial.
There are three standards for felony child support delinquency in Florida:
Delay in Payments
Child support debts over 30 days late is reported to credit agencies until paid. If a parent’s Florida driver’s licence is expired and in arrears, the state may deny renewal. For failing to pay child support, the state may suspend an active driver’s licence or impose a lien on the noncustodial parent’s car or other property, preventing the sale or borrowing against it.
The state can keep non-custodial parent payments as child support. The noncustodial parent’s state lottery win could reduce child maintenance. The federal government can withhold tax refunds for unpaid child support.
Willful Refusal to Pay
The court can hold a non-custodial parent in contempt for not paying child support after repeated enforcement procedures. Contempt results in fines and custody changes if support is not paid. The parent in contempt can be sent to jail until the required amount is paid, it’s called purge amount. Without a jury trial, the court may determine a specific imprisonment sentence of up to five months and 29 days. It is within the discretion of the court to determine the appropriate punishment.
Federal intervention may follow a state court contempt ruling for wilful child support non-payment. The federal government may act through the Office of the Inspector General if child support payments are not made for more than 1 or exceed $5,000. The OIG can fine or imprison up to 6 months.
Parent Leaves Florida
If a person flees Florida to avoid child support payments, the state establishes the order in another state. An attorney or agency in the new state will collect child support. To domesticate the child support obligation, a certified copy of the child support order is filed in the new state court along with an action seeking domestication of the child support order and notice given to the noncustodial parent.
What Are Valid Reasons for Not Paying Child Support in Florida?
The valid reasons for not paying child support in Florida include all of the following reasons.
- Child support will terminate upon the child turning the age of majority, 18, when the child graduates high school,
- When the child becomes emancipated,
- If the minor child becomes married,
- Passes away, or
- The child enters the military.
The statutes that state these reasons are listed within Florida statute 61.13(1) (a) (2)
Some judgements or settlement agreements may specify a date for child support termination on the child’s 18th birthday, but others cannot. The parent must petition the court to notify them of one of the substantial changes resulting in the termination of a child support award.
Evidence of a marriage, enlistment, or death, is necessary to provide the court with adequate cause to terminate a child support order.
In some cases, Parent’s Remarriage along with other conditions can influence child support.
Remarriage doesn’t change a parent’s financial support responsibility. Remarriage can affect child support in different ways. In Florida, a new spouse’s income does not factor into a child support determination directly, but it can still have an impact.
How Does Remarriage Impact Child Support Payments?
Remarriage may Impact Child Support Payments in following ways.
- Custodial Parent: The new spouse’s income can be considered when determining child support. For instance, if a custodial mother remarries a man with a substantial income, she is able to contribute more to her children’s expenses. A judge may reduce the father’s child support payment in this situation. While the court does not add the stepfather’s income to the mother’s when calculating child support, the judge may allow the mother to use more of her own money to support the child if the stepfather pays at least a portion of the household expenditures.
- Non-custodial Parent: Occasionally, courts also consider a non-custodial parent’s remarriage when determining child support. In one instance, a non-custodial father remarried and supported his new wife and children. In consideration of his need to support his second family, the judge ordered him to pay less child support to his first wife than the guidelines suggested. In contrast, courts will not increase a non-custodial parent’s child support obligation based on the income of the parent’s new spouse.
The remarriage of a non-custodial parent has no impact on a previous child support award. If the non-custodial parent marries someone of significant financial means, the new spouse’s finances should have nothing to do with the existing child support award. The new spouse’s income is not considered a just cause to file for a modification of child support.
Remarriage can also cause a parent’s employment status to change, and this may qualify as a substantial change in circumstances, which can lead to a modification or termination of child support. For instance, a remarriage may lead to relocation, making it necessary for a parent to leave their job, or increasing the expense of travel involved in spending time with the child.
Because of the new spouse’s income, the parent may find it unnecessary to work. The decision to quit work will not impact the child support obligations of either party.
A parent can petition the court for a child support modification only when there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of either parent. If the non-custodial parent received a significant raise, the custodial parent could ask for an increase in support. If the non-custodial parent lost their job due to unforeseen circumstances, the non-custodial parent might petition the court for a modification that reduces the amount of child support.
How Can Child Support Orders Be Modified in Florida?
In Florida, child support orders can be modified by filing a supplemental petition to modify child support through court or administrative agency. The process for modifying a child support order in Florida includes the following steps.
Step 1: Filing a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support in the county court of the original order
Parents can file a petition in circuit court to modify their child support order. Either parent can request a Child Support Programme review for modification. The Child Support Programme can review a support order for any parent.
Step 2: Income verification and serving the other parent with the modification request
The Child Support Programme reviews the requesting parent’s income and other information first. The Programme contacts the other parent for information after receiving this information. The Programme examines the parents’ information for any substantial, permanent, and involuntary change or other legal grounds to amend the order. When the Programme has completed the evaluation, the results are mailed to both parents.
Step 3: Burden to prove change in circumstances by parent seeking modification
The parent seeking to modify a support order has the burden to prove a change in circumstances. In most cases, before an order can be changed, a parent’s change in circumstances must be substantial, permanent, and involuntary.
If the support order was issued, reviewed, or altered within three years, a substantial change implies a 15% but no less than $50 change in the order amount. If the support order has been issued, reviewed, or altered after more than three years, a change in circumstances requires a 10% but no less than $25 modification in the order amount.
The facts determine a permanent change. A six-month change is usually required to prove a lasting transformation. Temporary alterations do not prove permanent change. If you can locate other work, losing your job is not permanent. A serious, life-changing illness or retirement at the typical retirement age may allow a parent to prove a permanent change immediately.
An extended illness or job layoff are involuntary changes coming from no fault of parent. Voluntary change is a Parent’s choice to change. Support orders cannot be changed voluntarily. Quitting a job, being fired for parental reasons, taking a lower-paying position, or committing a crime that leads to incarceration are choice changes.
Step 4: Approval or denial of the modification request.
If the evaluation suggests changing the order, the Programme may begin a procedure. Changes to orders depend on whether they are court orders, administrative support orders from the Programme, or orders from other states.
For changing Court order, the Program involves a Program attorney who handles the court action. For changing an administrative support order, the Program starts by sending notification to the parents of the proceeding to change the order. Before a court or administrative order is changed, parents have a formal hearing.
If the child support order was issued by another state, that state reviews and modifies the order, if appropriate. In this case parent makes request to the Program. Program forwards the request to the other state.
If the Program determines the order should not change, notification is sent to the parents of decision for taking no further action.
Until an order is changed, terminated or vacated, the amount ordered is owed and legally enforceable. Any child support order, divorce, paternity, or other can be modified. As mentioned above, requesting a revision requires a $50 or 15% payment increase.
What Are the Circumstances for Child Support Modification in Florida?
A child support order can be modified in Florida under all of the following circumstances.
- Educational Expenses such as changes in tuition fees, school supplies, and school uniforms may justify a change in support
- Day care costs such as any change, up or down, may be sufficient to justify a modification. Depending upon the previous court order
- Changes in Time-Sharing Patterns such as if the number of actual overnights differs from the parenting plan. The order cannot be modified if a parent is assigned 20% of overnights but the actual number is less.
- More than one partner such as if Parent pay child support to many partners for children from past relationships. Parent can ask to lower their child support payments.
- Income,if the other parent finds a high-paying job, one parent can request a child support change. Due to job loss or income decline, the child support payer may request a modification. The court cannot retroactively lower child support accrued before the payor files his additional petition.
- Healthcare such asif a child is diagnosed with an illness or has special needs or Parent becomes disabled. Unavailability of Health insurance at the time of the original award but has become available, this may justify a change in child support.
A parent must experience a substantial change in their circumstances to modify a child support order. As a general rule, if the result is a change in the support calculation of $50 per month or 15%, whichever is greater, the court will find a substantial change.
How is Child Support Impacted by One Parent Living in a Different State?
The Child Support enforcement process is impacted by one parent living in a different state. Even if one parent moves out of state, child support can be enforced or modified. If the relocated parent refuses to cooperate, enforcement or modification becomes more complicated.
The laws of the original state usually apply in the court of a new state. For instance, In Florida, child support orders typically last until the child’s 18th birthday or high school graduation, whereas in other states, the age limit is 21. If a parent relocate from Florida to one of these states, the child support obligation will terminate at age 21. If a parent migrate from one of these states to Florida, the parent will be subject to the original termination age.
A child support order may be enforced or modified if one or both parents move to a new state. Cross-state transactions are more complicated, but all parties have the same rights as if they had stayed in the same state. An interstate transfer means a change in job status or parenting arrangement triggering a need to modify a child support order.
The original court retains jurisdiction over modification proceedings in the majority of instances. There are two exceptions, if both parents agree to use a different court, or if neither the parents nor the children reside within the original court’s jurisdiction.
The court may have jurisdictional issues with the case if it is not filed correctly. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) helps to enforce out-of state orders, which allows enforcing a child support order in a state where the payer lives. The Act is adopted by many states throughout the United States, it is not federal law.
When parents reside in various states, the UIFSA can be utilised in Florida to collect child support. Consequently, a Florida court can establish a child support case regardless of where the parent pursuing payments resides. Under Florida Child Support Law 88.4011, Florida can also assist with the enforcement of an out-of-state support order.
All states are required by the UIFSA to recognise and enforce the support obligations of other states. For example, if a Florida family law court issues a child support order and the father later transfers to Georgia, the UIFSA will assist with enforcing the order in Georgia. Without the UIFSA, Florida might lack the authority to collect child support from parents who reside in different states.
The Florida Department of Revenue assists parents who are entitled to child support payments, regardless of where the order was issued. The department also helps parents enforce a child support order if the other parent has migrated out of state and there are grounds for enforcement.
What Are the Tax Implications of Child Support Payments?
In Florida, there are no tax implications on child support payments. For federal taxes, the IRS mentions Child support payments as neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient. At the time of calculation of gross income for filing a tax return, there is no need to include child support payments received.
In Florida, child support payments are neither tax-deductible nor taxed by the state. When a parent’s employer is identified, the Child Support Program automatically sends him income withholding for support notices. The employer withholds the child support payments and sends it to The Florida State Disbursement Unit. The State Disbursement Unit pays support-owed parent.
The Program uses numerous sources to identify employers and income sources. Other income sources such as The Social Security Administration receives income withholding for support notices from the Child Support Program.
Child support payments are not considered taxable income in Florida. The receiving parent does not have to report the payments as income. Child support is neither tax-deductible nor state-taxed. All child support payments in Florida are coursed through the state of Florida disbursement unit (FLSDU) where parents can make their payments online.