joint child custody with father

Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I Have Joint Custody?

Divorcing with children has some serious additional layers of complexities that other divorces do not have. The issues of child custody and child support can fundamentally impact a family in far-reaching ways. If you are considering divorce or divorce proceedings are looming in the not-so-distant future, you may have a variety of questions. If you and your soon-to-be former spouse have children together, many of those questions may relate to child custody and child support. The two issues are related and many people wonder whether or not child support will be ordered if a joint custody arrangement is in place. Let’s take a look at the answer to that question here.

Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I Have Joint Custody?

Joint custody, split custody, equal time-sharing, or 50/50 custody or time-sharing are many common terms heard in a divorce case with minor children. 50/50 time-sharing is not required under Florida law, but it is a good starting point to consider when your divorce case begins by asking yourself, “why shouldn’t my spouse have 50/50 time sharing with our child?”. That means that, barring extenuating circumstances, such as any evidence that may make one parent unsuitable, like a history of child abuse, among other things, the courts in Florida will usually lean towards a joint or equal time-sharing arrangement. While it is sometimes referred to as 50/50 custody, joint custody does not necessarily mean that parenting time each week is split precisely down the middle. In fact, many co-parents come to find an overnight schedule where the weekly parenting time is not split in half but comes out to be equal over the course of the months and years.

Because Florida courts tend to favor joint custody arrangements, the question of how this can impact the child support calculation comes up frequently. Many mistakenly believe that joint custody means that no child support will be ordered. This is simply not the case. Florida Statute dictates how child support is calculated. The primary factors in the calculation include the income level of the parties after taking allowable deductions and the number of overnights each party will have with the kids. Generally speaking, the non-custodial parent, the parent who has less parenting time with the kids, will be the one to pay child support. The custodial parent, as the parent spending the majority of the time with the kids, is generally assumed to be providing direct financial support to the children during their parenting time.

While parenting time is a primary factor in the child support calculation, level of income and other factors do come into play. That is why calculations using the child support guidelines can yield a result where one parent in a joint custody arrangement must make child support payments to the other parent. Sometimes, the amount is very small and both parties agree to waive the obligation.

Where no child support is ordered or the minimal child support amount is waived by both parties, then there will not need to be any child support payments in the joint custody arrangement. There will, however, likely be other financial necessities that come up relating to the children. Co-parents often put agreements in place which address such things as who will pay for certain expenses relating to the child, such as extracurricular activities, and how these payments will be made. Clarifying these kinds of things sooner rather than later can help ease the discomfort of addressing them later on.

Orlando Family Law Attorneys

For more answers to your divorce questions, talk to the knowledgeable team at Orlando Family Team. Contact us today.

child support

The Other Parent Has Sole Custody. Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?

Parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children. Courts put child support orders in place to help make sure this happens. If a parent fails to make the court-ordered child support payments, then there will be repercussions. If the other parent has sole custody and you perhaps do not get to see your child all that often, you may be wondering whether you have to still pay child support. The answer is yes, yes you do.

The Other Parent Has Sole Custody. Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?

Custody can refer to either legal custody or physical custody. More often than not, parents share joint legal custody after a divorce. This means that they share in legal custody, which refers to the rights parents have to make decisions regarding where a child lives and other things such as education, recreation, religion and moral upbringing, among other things. Joint custody also refers to joint physical custody which can also be referred to as “timesharing.” This is the actual time that a child will spend in the care of each parent. The parent who spends more time with the child is generally considered to be the primary custodial parent.

Joint custody is not always the case in custody arrangements. There are also instances where sole custody is set based on one thing or another or a totality of the circumstances. There is not actually “sole custody” in Florida, but there is “sole parental responsibility.” In cases of sole parental responsibility, one parent is awarded exclusive physical and legal custody of a child. The other parent may still be granted visitation rights, although they may need to be court-supervised.

Regardless of the custody arrangements, however, a parent who is ordered to pay child support by a court must comply with this order. Child support can be owed in cases where there is a joint custody arrangement or a sole custody arrangement. It is based on the combined incomes of the parents and the time each parents spends with the child. Child support is awarded in most cases. Only in cases where the parents earn comparable income, pay for the same amount of child-related expenses, and have the child for the same number of days each week or month will there be no child support ordered. It is based on a state-mandated formula.

Both parents are obligated to financially support their children. As you can probably deduce based on the above information, those parents who are the noncustodial parents in a sole custody arrangement are even more likely to be ordered to pay child support as they do not care for the child on a day to day basis and, therefore, are not covering expenses related to caring for the everyday needs of the child. Should you fail to make court ordered child support payments, you face a wide range of potential penalties and enforcement mechanisms such as:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Deduction from your federal income tax refund
  • Bank account funds seizure
  • Being held in contempt of court
  • Having your driver’s license suspended

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Do you have questions about child support in Florida? At Orlando Family Team, we have answers. Contact us today.

mother and 18-year-old

What Happens If My Child Turns 18, But My Ex Still Owes Child Support?

Have you struggled to get your child’s other parent to pay child support? As your child gets older, you may wonder if you will ever see these back child support payments. You may even worry as to what happens when your child turns 18. When the child support obligation ends, are you unable to collect any outstanding child support arrears? We will discuss this in more detail here.

What Happens If My Child Turns 18, But My Ex Still Owes Child Support?

Parents that still owe child support after the child turns 18, should continue to make child support payments. This is because, even when the child support obligation ends, child support arrears do not go away. The child support payments made after the obligation ends will go toward paying off arrears owed. The payor parent may even be able to petition the court to have the monthly payment lowered as the full monthly payments made would be going straight toward paying off the arrears total.

In Florida, there is no statute of limitations on collecting child support arrears. It does not matter how old the child is, even if the child has become a full-blown adult. Child support arrears remain until paid. This is not true in every state, but it is true in Florida. In some instances, even the death of the parent will not release him or her of the obligation to pay child support arrears. The other parent can make a claim against the obligor parent’s estate if he or she dies with unpaid child support still owed.

It is important to note, however, that just because there is no statute of limitations in place on child support arrears does not mean that you should wait to take action. Delays in seeking collection of past-due child support may provide the delinquent parent with possible defenses to any claim to arrears you may seek later on. Laches, for instance, may apply. A laches claim means that the delinquent parent is asserting unreasonable delay in you making your claim to child support arrears.

There are several ways you may be able to collect back child support and the Florida Department of Revenue may be able to assist you with this. The Florida Department of Revenue is authorized to carry out a wide array of actions in order to get payment on back child support. Collection efforts may include:

  • Sending notices of late payment
  • Income withholding
  • Suspension of the delinquent parent’s driver’s licenses and professional licenses
  • Intercepting federal income tax refunds or workers’ compensation support payments
  • Placing a lien on personal property
  • Passport application denial
  • Notifying credit agencies of child support arrears

You also have the option of filing a motion for contempt with the court.

Orlando Family Law Attorneys

At Orlando Family Team, our team is committed to helping people and families. For all of your child custody questions, concerns, and struggles, we are here for you. Contact us today.

child support payments

How Do I Collect Child Support From an Out of State Non-Custodial Parent?

Parents have an obligation to support their children. That is why child support exists. Are you struggling to collect child support from the non-custodial parent? Unfortunately, this is not so uncommon. It can be a difficult and uncomfortable situation to not receive the child support payments you are owed. Not only can it easily put you in a tough financial position, but the stress of having to seek assistance with collection efforts can place a strain on your already busy life. All of this can be further exacerbated should the non-custodial parent live out of state.

How Do I Collect Child Support From an Out of State Non-Custodial Parent?

Interstate child support refers to the situation where the payor parent lives out of state. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) was established for this particular situation. It dictates which child support laws will apply in efforts to collect owed child support and modification requests. Parents seeking the collection of interstate child support are protected under this law.

It should first be made clear that it is a crime for a parent to relocate to another state in an attempt to shirk a child support order. The severity of said crime will vary by state and prosecution of the case is at the discretion of the relevant law enforcement agency. There are other potential repercussions for an out-of-state parent who avoids a child support order, as well as possible assistance available as the custodial parent, tries to seek enforcement of the child support order.

The agency in the state of the non-custodial parent that is tasked with the establishment and enforcement of child support orders may provide assistance to the custodial parent that does not live in the state where the agency is located. In some cases, this agency can assist by requesting the non-custodial parent’s employer withhold the requisite child support amount from the paycheck of the non-custodial parent. This same type of state agency may also assist parents who live in the state but are looking to enforce a child support order for a non-custodial parent living in another state. This, however, often requires cooperation between agencies in both states.

State agencies are also empowered with several other enforcement tools at their disposal. An agency may seek to place a lien on property the non-custodial parent holds in the state with jurisdiction over the child support order. An agency has the option of seeking enforcement of a child support order as a foreign order and may do so in any state where the non-custodial parent lives, works, or owns property. Once a request for enforcement has been made, the authorized state can use different types of enforcement measures. This includes withholding from the parent’s paychecks and placing property liens on anything from bank accounts to real estate holdings.

Orlando Family Law Attorneys

Are you struggling with child support issues? You are not alone. The dedicated team at Orlando Family Team is here to help. Contact us today.

can child support be reduced

Can Child Support Be Reduced If the Payor Has More Children?

If you receive child support payments from your co-parent, you know that such payments can be critical to providing for your child. If your co-parent, the payor parent, has gone on to have another child, you may very well be concerned as to how this could impact child support. Here, we will discuss whether child support can be reduced in the event that the payor parent has more children.

Can Child Support Be Reduced If the Payor Has More Children?

The answer to this question is, it depends. The good news is that the fact that the payor parent has had another child will not, in and of itself, mean that there will be a change to the child support that was previously established by the court. When the other child was born and whether or not that other child receives support from the payor parent will be critical factors as to whether a change in child support will be merited.

First and foremost, a parent who pays child support for other children cannot petition the court to reduce a previously ordered child support order in order to account for other children. This is because the Florida legislature put protective measures in place so that a child born before another child would not risk losing the support that was initially awarded. In other words, there is a prohibition of a downward modification of child support as a result of an after born child. It should be noted, however, that the law on this does not actually operate in terms of birth order. The timing depends on the chronological order of the child support orders put in place. A previously established child support order will not be modified because the payor spouse went on to have other children and face other child support obligations.

While a person that goes on to face other child support obligations cannot ask the court to reduce preexisting child support orders based on the new obligations, going on to have more children can have other impacts on the situation. For instance, if the payor spouse gets another job to pay for the new child, the parent receiving child support may want to petition for an increase in child support based on the parent having an increase in income. If the court finds that the additional job was intended to support the additional child, then the court is unlikely to grant an increase in the original child support award.

It should also be noted that, while previously established child support orders will not likely be reduced if the payor spouse has another child, the existing child support obligations will be taken into account should the payor spouse face a child support obligation for the new child. This is because the child support guidelines take into account whether the paying parent supports other children on his or her income. In other words, having more children may not impact an existing child support order, but an existing child support order may very well impact other child support orders a parent is obligated to pay.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

The laws surrounding child support obligations are complex and detailed. They are also, however, important to understand as this is an essential part of understanding your rights and obligations regarding the payment and receipt of child support. For answers to your child support questions, the knowledgeable team at Orlando Family Team has answers for you. Contact us today.

cash child support

Can I Pay My Ex Cash for Child Support?

Often, a child support order is put in place after a divorce where there are children involved, although it can be put in place under other circumstances as well. Regardless of whether parents are married, separated, divorced, or were never married in the first place, both parents remain financially obligated to provide for their child. If you have been ordered to pay child support by a court, you may have questions about how you can make your child support payments. How and when to make your court order child support payments is critical to your compliance with the order and is, therefore, to get straight right away.

Can My Ex Pay Cash for Child Support?

First, you should review the child support order which either establishes or modifies child support and it may very well state how the judge has ordered you to pay your child support obligation. In the absence of such a directive, the parties are often able to determine how child support payments should be made. Both parents could decide that cash, check, money order, or direct deposit works as far as making child support payments is concerned, if they have agreed that a direct payment should be made to the supported parent.

Direct payments have the advantage of being faster. Without a middleman or third party, the supported parent receives the payment right away. That being said, however, the lack of third-party oversight means that the supported parent will need to handle things like late payments and other payment issues on his or her own. This can not only be stressful, but also put a strain on the co-parenting relationship.

If you and your co-parent have determined that direct payment works best for you both, then consider keeping a record of child support payments. This kind of documentation could prove very useful in the event of a child support dispute. You may even be able to go back to court to request payment through a third party if direct payment does not end up working out.

If the court order has established that child support payments should be paid via a third party, the payments will be handled by the State Disbursement Unit, a branch of the Florida Department of Revenue. To make a payment through the State Disbursement Unit, the obligor parent can pay with a credit card or bank account. Alternatively, payments can be made through the mail by cash, check, or money order. Sometimes, payments may be made via income deduction from the obligor parent’s employer.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Whether you are to receive payments via cash, check, or money order, and receive either direct payments or payments made through the State Disbursement Unit, you should be receiving child support payments in a timely manner and that are paid in full. If child support payments are becoming an issue, there are enforcement options at a court’s disposal. If you are struggling to make child support payments, you should consider pursuing a modification of a child support order right away. Talk to the knowledgeable team at Orlando Family Team about your options. Contact us today.

woman looking up the uniform interstate family support act

What Is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)?

If you have been ordered by a court of a certain state, and then you move to a different state, you will still be required to comply with the court order from the original state. This is just one of many implications of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). It is an important piece of legislation; a uniform act drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in the U.S. Here, we will discuss what exactly the UIFSA is and some of its implications.

What is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)?

The UIFSA accomplishes several objectives. Effectively, the Act gives a state “long-arm” jurisdiction over a child support debtor even where the debtor is a nonresident. The general rule is that a court has jurisdiction over residents, but UIFSA provides an exception. The UIFSA is the go-to piece of legislation to determine jurisdiction and power of courts in different states when more than one state is involved in either the establishment, modification, or enforcement of a child support, or spouse support, order. Furthermore, the UIFSA dictates which state’s laws will apply in proceedings pursuant to the act. This can make a big difference as there can be a range of differences in the laws of various states.

When a state puts a child support order in place, it is said to retain “continuing exclusive jurisdiction.” This is true as long as one of the parties to the order continues to reside in that state or if both parties agree to transfer jurisdiction to another state. This state will be the only state-authorized to modify the original child support award. This makes it set that there will only be one support order in effect at any given time.

In child support modification proceedings, there may be questions about which state’s laws will apply. Pursuant to the UIFSA, the laws of the state with “continuing exclusive jurisdiction” will apply. As previously stated, this will be the state that put the original child support order into effect unless both parties agreed to transfer jurisdiction to another state or if neither parent nor the child lives in that state anymore. It should be noted, however, that the laws of the enforcing state will apply for purposes of enforcement proceedings.

Once established, a child support order can be sent to any other UIFSA state and be registered there. Registering the order in another state will permit the authorities of that state to enforce the order. Registration, however, will not grant that state any authority regarding modification of the order.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Jurisdictional issues can be complicated, but can also have significant impacts on your family law case. For jurisdictional questions or concerns, talk to the knowledgeable team of family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team. We are here to answer your questions and provide you with sound legal counsel. Contact us today.

What Is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)?

When it comes to family law matters, there are both federal and state laws at play. The intersection and overlap of these laws, in addition to the laws themselves, can be incredibly complex and difficult to navigate, and yet they address critical matters that will likely come into play should you need to do something such as establish or modify a child support order. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is one such important federal law that will be relevant to your case.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

Drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in the U.S., the UIFSA is a uniform act that places limits on the jurisdiction empowered to establish and modify child support orders, as well as take steps towards the enforcement of child support obligations within the U.S.. As an aside, jurisdiction refers to a court of law’s official power to render legal decisions and judgments relating to a particular case. Without jurisdiction, a court is not authorized to make binding legal judgments over certain matters.

Every state in the U.S. has either opted to adopt the 1996 version of the UIFSA or a later version. The UIFSA is implemented every time more than one state is involved in the establishment, enforcement, or modification of a child or spousal support order in order to determine the jurisdiction and legal authority of the courts in the different states. Furthermore, the UIFSA is utilized in order to determine which state’s law will be applied to the proceedings. This can be critical as there can be many significant differences in child support laws between different states.

The UIFSA also provides for various methods of direct interstate enforcement of child support. It grants a custodial parent the ability to have an order mailed to the obligor parent’s employer requiring the employer to withhold payment for the benefit of the child. It also provides for the custodial parent to have an order mailed to an out-of-state court in order to have the other state enforce the child support order.

There are other various provisions of the UIFSA, including those providing for issues incidental to paternity. The UIFSA also requires that each state establish Child Support Guidelines. Such guidelines are to be used by court and state child enforcement agencies in order to determine the amount a non-custodial parent is obligated to pay to the custodial parent to support the child. Child support guidelines should consider a few important things, such as:

  • The needs of the child
  • The present and future well-being of the child
  • Other dependents
  • The non-custodial parent’s ability to pay

Florida Family Law Attorneys

For help unraveling the complex laws involved in your family law case, talk to the knowledgeable attorneys at Orlando Family Team. We will walk you through these laws and their relevance as well as protect your best interests. Contact us today.

woman receiving child support money

Why Would the Department of Revenue Bring a Child Support Action?

While a private party may take steps to enforce a child support order through filing a child support action in court, it is not uncommon for the Department of Revenue to seek child support payments. There are several reasons why the Department of Revenue would bring a child support action. Should you find yourself on the other side of a Department of Revenue child support action, beware of the range of enforcement mechanisms at the disposal of the Department of Revenue.

When the Department of Revenue Brings a Child Support Action

There are different categories of Florida child support orders. One such category is Title IV-D child support orders. The Florida Department of Revenue is tasked with enforcing these orders. The specific circumstances of a situation will dictate which category a certain child support case falls into. Title IV-D cases include those where the custodial parent who is entitled to receiving child support requests or receives assistance from the Florida Department of Revenue in an attempt to collect owed child support payments from the obligor parent.

The most common reason the Florida Department of Revenue would bring a child support action is when the custodial parent is the recipient of state benefits, or public assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps. The Department of Revenue gets involved in these types of cases because many parents must look to receiving government benefits when they fail to receive the child support payments they are owed. Payments from the obligor parent are sought in order to alleviate the custodial parent’s reliance on public assistance, such as food stamps, and, in turn, alleviate the burden that eventually falls on taxpayers.

This is one reason why applicants for public assistance must disclose whether they have a child. They must also disclose whether the child lives with them, meaning whether they are the custodial parent, and whether or not the other parent lives in the same household. If the applicant discloses that he or she is the custodial parent of a child and the other parent does not live with them, then the Department of Revenue is likely to pursue the other parent for child support.

Should an obligor parent fail to pay court-ordered child support, the Florida Department of Revenue has an array of enforcement tools at its disposal. For instance, the Florida Department of Revenue may:

  • Mail notice of late payment to the obligor’s address in order to inform him of the unpaid child support obligation
  • Mail notice to the obligor’s employer instructing them on withholding wages for child support payments
  • Suspend the obligor’s driver’s license
  • Suspend business, professional, hunting, or fishing licenses of the obligor
  • Deduct child support obligation from workers’ compensation benefits
  • Garnishment of bank accounts or other financial accounts

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Should the Florida Department of Revenue pursue an enforcement action against you for unpaid child support, you need to secure legal counsel as soon as possible. The dedicated child support attorneys at Orlando Family Team can help protect you from being subjected to some of the strict enforcement mechanisms at the Department’s disposal. We will always stand by your side and protect your best interests. Contact us today.

Daughter holding paper shapes of family.

What Is Considered to Be an Unfit Parent in Florida?

Florida law makes it clear that children are a priority. The well-being of children and the best interest of children is the guiding standard in all family law decisions where children are involved. The rights of parents are also an important part of Florida family law. A parent’s rights to raise and care for his or her child is fiercely protected. In some cases, however, a parent acts in such a way that it is clear they are unfit for the role of parent in the life of their child. Determining a parent to be unfit is not a decision Florida courts take lightly, but it is all too often one that needs to be made in order to protect a child from harm.

What Is Deemed As an Unfit Parent 

Pursuant to Florida Statute 751.05, a parent may be found unfit if he or she abused, abandoned, or neglected the child. Abuse includes intentionally inflicting mental or physical harm against a child. It may also include intentional acts reasonably expected to cause mental or physical injury. Additionally, a parent may be deemed abusive if he or she actively encouraged someone else to commit an abusive act against the child.

In the alternative, a parent may be found unfit due to child neglect. Neglect occurs when a parent fails to provide the care and supervision needed to support the mental and physical health of the child. A parent or caregiver may also be found neglectful if he or she failed to take reasonable steps to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by someone else.

Abandonment is also grounds for deeming a parent unfit in Florida. Abandonment of a child means that, despite being able to, a parent made no provision for the child’s support. Furthermore, abandonment of a child means a parent failed to either establish or maintain a substantial, positive relationship with the child. An official charge of child abandonment in Florida is officially known as “unlawful desertion of a child.” This occurs when a caregiver leaves a child in a situation where he or she knew or should have known that leaving would expose the child to risk of harm.

Not mutually exclusive to the above-listed factors, but worth highlighting, is the fact that a Florida court may also deem a parent to be unfit if they have an established history of drug abuse or mental illness. A history of either does not mean that a person lacks the ability to be a good parent. Evidence of either, however, will merit further evaluation by the court. Courts will be hesitant to place a child in a situation where they are in the care of someone who has a history of erratic, dangerous behaviors.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Being found as an unfit parent in Florida can have serious repercussions. A person can be denied custody and visitation privileges. An unfit parent determination may lead to termination of parental rights. There can also be criminal charges associated with the determination. At the end of the day, we all want what is best for the children. At Orlando Family Team, we are here to represent you as we work to preserve the best interests of your child. Contact us today.