Experienced Representation for Child Support, Enforcement, and Modifications
Under Florida law, it is the moral and legal obligation of married, divorced, or single parents to provide financial support for their children. Child support payments benefit the child, ensuring that they have an acceptable standard of care. These obligations generally end when a child turns 18 years of age. However, it can be extended to 19 years if the child is still in high school. For special needs children, the court may extend child support indefinitely. Under Florida law, parents cannot waive financial support for their children.
Florida's Child Support Guidelines
To determine child support payments, Florida uses an “Income Shares Model” based on the parent’s respective incomes and the expenses of raising a child. The number of overnight visitations for each parent is a significant factor in calculating child support amounts. The court considers costs for daycare, health care, housing, food, clothing, educational expenses, and other activities. There are additional considerations for a child with special needs.
Enforcement of Child Support
Florida has strict laws to ensure that parents comply with court-ordered child support. When a parent is noncompliant with an order, they are in civil contempt. In that case, both parents are required to attend a hearing, and the court may impose penalties on the delinquent parent. Although a parent may be in arrears of paying child support, the other parent can never use this to withhold visitation. Florida law maintains it is in the child’s best interests to have a relationship and regularly interact and visit with both parents.
A Judge Can Order Various Remedies to Collect Overdue Child Support, such as:
- Garnish income from a parent’s paycheck or financial accounts
- Freeze bank accounts
- Establish a payment plan
- Suspend a driver’s license and car registration
- Suspend professional licenses
- Place liens on real estate or vehicles
- Incarceration for up to a year until child support in arrears is paid
- Order the delinquent parent to pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and other expenses
- Passport revocation or application denial
There may be legitimate reasons why a parent is noncompliant with child support payments or believes the child support payments should be adjusted. The number of overnight visits may have changed, or perhaps a parent incurred a loss of income, a severe illness, accident, or disability. In addition, the child’s needs may have significantly changed, warranting an increase or decrease in child support payments. To qualify for a modification through the court, a parent must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that meets statutory guidelines. The guidelines may provide the basis for proving a substantial change in circumstance. However, the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines shall be at least 15% or $50, whichever is greater, before the court may find that the guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances.” (this comes directly from the statute 61.30(1)(b) The parent requesting a modification files a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support to initiate the process.
Call the Law Offices of Alison M. Lopes for a Free Consultation
The emotional stakes are high when children are at the heart of a dispute. Child support payments can be the most contentious part of a divorce. It is vital to have sound legal guidance when establishing child support or to petition the court for a modification or enforcement. At the Law Offices of Alison M. Lopes, our experienced family law attorneys can help you achieve the most favorable outcome. We are well versed in all aspects of Florida laws for divorce, child support, enforcement, and modifications.
Contact the Law Offices of Alison M. Lopes at our Orlando, Florida office at (407)442-2724. We are here to answer your questions, explain your rights, and represent your interests.