If you and your child’s other parent do not live together, one of you almost always has to pay child support. Parents have a legal duty to support their children financially.
The law provides a formula for make calculating child support fair and predictable but parents still sometimes disagree. A Fort Lauderdale child support lawyer can ensure you know what to expect. It is beneficial to work with an experienced family attorney so you can anticipate and solve potential problems before they become big issues.
A Formula Determines Child Support
Child support contributes to the child’s food, shelter, clothing, education, transportation, activities, and other needs. Florida publishes guidelines that determine the minimum child support payment, which are found in Florida Statutes § 61.30. The formula considers the following:
- Each parent’s after-tax income;
- The number of minor children the parents have together;
- How many children each parent supports;
- Whether either parent pays alimony to the other parent or anyone else;
- Childcare expenses related to the parent’s work or school obligations;
- Health, dental, and vision care insurance payments for the children;
- How many nights the children spend with each parent.
By plugging in this information, parents in Fort Lauderdale can determine how much each of them must contribute to the child’s upbringing.
Parents must pay child support until the child turns 18, unless the child is still in high school on their 18th birthday, in which case the support ends when the child graduates from high school. If a child is severely disabled and unlikely to ever earn their own living, a parent might have a lifetime obligation to pay support.
The formula provides a number that works for most families but a Judge could deviate from the formula number by up to five percent. They have the authority to change the formula number by more than five percent if they write an explanation about why the change is appropriate. For example, the Judge might order more child support if the parents have substantial assets so that the children have a similar lifestyle after the divorce as they did before.
How to Pay and Receive Child Support
Courts usually order the paying parent to pay the child support to the Florida Department of Revenue so the government can track payments. This makes it easier to enforce a child support order against a parent who falls behind. In some cases, parents might prefer not to use the Department of Revenue to collect and disburse child support. A Fort Lauderdale attorney can explain whether other child support options are available in a specific case.
Usually, the court will order the paying parent’s employer to deduct child support from their paycheck and send it directly to the Department of Revenue State Disbursements Unit. If the paying parent is unemployed or self-employed, they could pay by cash, check, or credit card.
The receiving parent must set up an account with the Department of Revenue. When the paying parent makes a payment, the Disbursement Unit processes it and transfers it to the receiving parent’s bank account. The receiving parent could also receive the money through a pre-paid Visa card.
Enforcing or Modifying a Support Obligation
Sometimes a child support arrangement does not work well. In that case, a parent might petition the court to enforce or modify a child support order.
If a parent falls behind on child support, the receiving parent could seek help from the Department of Revenue or go to court to enforce the order. It is often faster to work with a child support lawyer in Fort Lauderdale to seek enforcement through the courts. A court could seize a delinquent parent’s tax return, suspend their driver’s license, attach their bank accounts, or even find a delinquent parent in contempt and put them in jail.
If a parent has experienced a significant change in their circumstances, they could petition the court to modify child support. A change is significant if the new formula amount would vary by either 15 percent or $50 a month, whichever is more. The change could affect either the paying or receiving parent but the paying parent must pay according to the original order until the Judge issues a modification.
Consult a Fort Lauderdale Child Support Attorney Today
Money and children are both issues that can cause emotions to heat up. When the two are combined in a divorce proceeding, it is not surprising that child support disputes arise.
During a free consultation, a Fort Lauderdale child support lawyer can explain what the law requires and help you reach an agreement with your co-parent. Call us today to discuss your situation with The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm.