Man who was recently furloughed and wondering how it will affect his child support.

I Was Furloughed and Now Make Less Money — How Does This Affect My Child Support?

The coronavirus pandemic has closed down much of the U.S. economy. In the state of Florida, a large percentage of workers have either been laid off or furloughed until further notice. Many individuals in this category are not only worried about how to survive without a paycheck, but about how this enormous alteration of their finances will affect how much child support they will receive or be expected to pay. 

If you are troubled by your new status as a furloughed employee, your best bet is to consult with a strong Florida divorce attorney like Orlando Family Team. No matter whether you are unable to meet your child support responsibilities, or conversely, are afraid you won’t be able to pay your bills without incoming child support payments, our empathic attorneys will provide you with emotional support and realistic options.

What exactly does being furloughed mean?

A furlough is essentially a mandatory suspension from work during which the employee is not paid. Furloughs usually affect a particular business because of a specific calamity (like a fire), or affect a type of business when there are economic reversals for a particular industry. In the first half of 2020, however, because of a pandemic unlike anything seen during the past century, a very high percentage of businesses have shut down, leaving over 17 million Americans unemployed. 

In Florida, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando has been one of the places hardest hit. Seventy-thousand workers from that one corporation are right now relying on unemployment for sustenance. It should be noted that unemployment is funded by the federal government, but administered by the states. The Florida State Unemployment Assistance Program measures up poorly against most other states, allocating only $275 a week for 12 weeks to eligible recipients. Forty-thousand of those let go by Disney have been furloughed.

Furloughed Workers Are in a Double Bind

Private employees on furlough usually consider applying for unemployment insurance or taking temporary jobs to see them through. Unfortunately, if a privately furloughed employee takes either of these actions, he or she is usually responsible for paying back any monies received as soon as the furlough is over. To add insult to injury, divorcé(e)s responsible for paying child support continue to be held accountable for any support payments they miss, along with penalties for lateness. Government workers on furlough have an advantage here since they maintain unemployment rights and cannot be fired or replaced without due process during their furloughed tenure, which may last for up to a year.

Furloughed employees, even those who work for private companies, have an expectation that they will return to work. In most cases, the employers will either provide the furloughed employers with a specific date of the expected return or indicate that they will be able to resume past duties when they have fulfilled a required task, such as obtaining a certification. During the pandemic, though, furloughs almost uniformly occur because businesses cannot afford to pay their employees during a period during which they cannot maintain their bottom line.

Much Remains Unknown

As of only a few months ago, most of us were living in a different world. COVID-19 has brought with it a tremendous amount of turmoil, but it has also brought a determination to adapt to our new environment. The answers to many of our questions, including those concerning how child support is affected by employee furloughs, can, for the moment, only be answered tentatively. New legislation is being conceived and enacted practically daily and it will take more time for the law to catch up with our new reality.

One thing is for sure — your children must be supported. That need won’t change. It is possible, though, that laws will be amended to make room for increased flexibility during this period of great struggle. For example, suppose you are a child support payor and your wages have been garnished because you were delinquent in previous payments. If now, as a government employee who has been furloughed, you are not receiving a paycheck from which the state can withhold child support due, will you still be charged exorbitant penalties (as much as 10 percent compounded) for lack of payment?

In order to understand the most recent legal developments to divorce law, and how they will affect you and your child support, it is best to consult with a dependable divorce lawyer. In the face of all the changes that have come to the state of Florida, the United States, and the world in the past few months, it is difficult to predict what will happen next. It seems that the more the population struggles, the more likely the courts are to make pragmatic exceptions. This may tilt new legislation in favor of the payor of child support. Nonetheless, all children have the right to be fed and clothed and protected from danger, so we’ll have to wait and see. 

To Best Protect Yourself and Your Children, Contact Orlando Family Team 

For your own safety and the safety of your children, it is crucial that you get proper legal counsel from a team with a reputation for being trustworthy and dedicated to their clients. Contact Orlando Family Team. We are committed to protecting your rights while making certain your children are provided for during the pandemic. 

Man holding his stimulus check.

Does My Stimulus Check Count as Income and Do I Need to Give a Portion of it to Child Support?

COVID-19 has unquestionably changed the world for everyone, including divorced parents. Whether you have recently divorced or have long ago settled into the somewhat unsettling routine of child custody, child support, and parenting time, the pandemic may have already affected you financially. The recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act) has been created to give those harmed the most some measure of financial relief, but how will it affect you?

You may have lost your job or are working remotely. You and your ex no doubt have to rethink childcare arrangements since many daycare facilities and schools are now closed. Now that you may be getting a stimulus check from the federal government, you are wondering how your divorce status will affect your potential benefit. Will you have to pay a portion of it in child support? This is a good time to get in touch with Orlando Family Team where our knowledgeable attorneys can provide you with information and support.

What Stimulus Checks Are Designed to Accomplish

In view of the fact that so many Americans are experiencing severe financial (not to mention physical and emotional) pain during the pandemic, a $2 trillion economic stimulus package has been legislated by the federal government. 

What Stimulus Checks Pay

The plan is to send $1,200 to each single adult who reported a gross income of under $75,000 for 2019. Single parents designated heads of households will receive $1200 if their income does not exceed $112,500. Married couples who filed jointly will receive $2,400 if their combined income is under $150,000. Payments diminish if individuals or couples exceed the income limit, their stimulus check decreased by $5 for every $100 above the limit. Each payment, however, has a cap on income above which no stimulus will be given. 

But what about those who are divorced? When parents are divorced, whichever parent claims the child as a dependent will receive an additional $500 for each child under 17.

If You Are Already Divorced

Because most divorce decrees include stipulations that joint tax refunds will be recognized as an asset to be equitably distributed, it seems fair that if you filed a joint tax return, a stimulus check based on your family’s pre-divorce status would be divided 50/50. But what happens if the check is automatically deposited in your ex’s bank account? While many ex-spouses will share the amount received, some will not. Then the question for the excluded spouse will be: Is it worth the monetary cost and emotional turbulence to engage in a legal battle to obtain my share of the stimulus check? Your trusted divorce attorney will be able to help you answer this question in your particular case.

If You’re Not Yet Divorced

If you’re in the process of negotiating your divorce, your attorney will make sure the handling of the stimulus payment is addressed as part of your final agreement. It should be noted that rumors stating that your stimulus will have to be returned next year by forfeiting your tax refund are completely false. Stimulus checks will not be taxed, now or in the future.

How do stimulus checks affect child support payments?

While the CARES Act suspends certain debts, including overdue student loans or back taxes — which, under ordinary circumstances could have led to garnished wages or tax refunds — delinquent child support payments are in a completely different category. 

Because the federal government always makes child support a priority, stimulus checks may be seized to pay back child support. As a matter of fact, child support is the only obligation that subjects stimulus payments to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP). Even if you are experiencing financial hardship, no exceptions to this provision will be made. The process, however, is cumbersome and results in delays: the amount reduced or withheld for owed child support will go back to the state, and only then will a new check be issued to the parent who is owed child support. 

The Takeaway

If you owe back child support and expect to receive a stimulus payment, you should be aware that your debt will offset that check for the amount you owe. In other words, depending on how much child support you owe, you will either not receive a stimulus check at all, or you will receive a check for a lower amount. If you feel that you don’t owe the back child support that has been reported, or if your ex refuses to pay you your half of a couple’s stimulus check, you should contact Orlando Family Team for clarification and legal guidance. 

Figures of family members separated through divorce.

Factors Considered When Determining Child Support

In the State of Florida, parents have an obligation to financially provide for their children. This obligation is in place regardless of whether or not the parents are married. That is why child support comes into play during divorce proceedings. When determining child support, a judge will follow a strict set of guidelines.

What Is Considered When Determining Child Support?

Pursuant to Florida law, courts follow an “Income Shares Model” in child support calculations. This means that courts estimate the amount of money the parents would spend on the children should the family be living in one household intact. This amount is then divided between the parents based on their respective income levels.

The Florida Child Support Guidelines are used to calculate child support payments. In order for the guidelines to be completed, each parent must file financial affidavits and exchange them with each other. These affidavits are used to verify the income and expenses of each parent. The information provided in the affidavits is used to fill out the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. What the guidelines do is calculate the child support obligation based on the number of children and the combined net incomes of the parents. The combined net incomes include the gross income of each parent with allowable deductions subtracted. The gross income amount includes the majority of different types of both earned and unearned income. For instance, gross income will include things like:

  • Wages/Salary
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Dividend payments
  • Interest
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Retirement benefits

Deductions that may be taken to reach the net income of a parent include:

  • Federal income tax deductions
  • Qualifying health insurance premiums
  • Social Security payments
  • Spousal support payments (alimony)
  • Court-ordered child support payments (for children from previous relationships)

The information provided in the financial affidavits are entered into the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet in order to arrive at the basic child support amount. This basic child support amount is then allocated between the parents in proportion to each other’s income. In addition to income, the allocation will depend on things like custody and visitation. For instance, the annual number of overnights with a parent will be relevant to the calculation.

Judges do not have much ability in deviating from child support guidelines. In fact, a judge only has the ability to vary within five percent over or under the guidelines and this is only under certain circumstances. When deviating from the guideline amount, it must be deemed necessary based on factors that include things like a parent’s ability to pay and the special needs of the child.

Florida Child Support Attorneys

Child support calculations are complex and there are a variety of factors at play. Child support payments can have a significant impact on the finances of both the payor and the recipient. It is important that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. The trusted Florida child support attorneys at the Orlando Family Team will answer your child support questions and concerns. Contact us today.

Man calculating his child support arrears with lawyer.

How Long Can Child Support Arrears Be Collected?

In order to be enforceable, child support obligations must be in a written child support order signed by a circuit court judge. Should a parent fail to pay an unofficial or orally or informally agreed upon child support obligation, there is no legal recourse available. If there is a legally binding child support order in place, however, the parent who is to receive child support payments may seek legal recourse against a parent who has failed to pay a child support obligation. When the payor parent fails to pay child support, it is referred to as “child support arrears.” 

Child support arrears refer to the amount of child support owed that a parent has failed to pay. Missed payments can quickly add up and both parties to the child support order should be made familiar with when child support arrears may be collected.

Child Support Arrears – When Do You Stop Paying?

It is a longstanding myth that once a child reaches the age of majority, turns 18 years old, child support arrears, also referred to as “back child support,” cannot be collected. This is not true. Florida law has no statute of limitations on collecting past-due child support. In other words, there is no time limit on when a parent can seek a collection of child support arrears and the Florida Department of Revenue has the legal authority to indefinitely pursue a parent to enforce child support arrears. A parent entitled to receive child support payments that have been missed has the ability to seek collection of that back child support even when the children related to the child support order are all grown up.

Penalties for Overdue Child Support

If you are a parent who is supposed to be receiving child support but the payor parent has failed to make the requisite payments, you may seek collection of those missed payments through filing a motion for contempt with the circuit court. A hearing on the matter will be scheduled and the judge will issue a decision as to what the total child support arrears are and whether interest on the missed payments should be assessed. Should the payor parent fail to pay and refuse to agree to a payment plan, then the court has the authority to sentence the parent to jail time for no more than 179 days or until the parent pays the amount set by the judge. Other penalties that the delinquent payor parent may be subject to include:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Loss of license plate
  • Seizure of bank account funds
  • Loss of hunting and fishing licenses
  • Seizure of tax refunds
  • Loss of vehicle registration
  • Seizure of lottery winnings
  • Loss of professional licenses

Contact the Orlando Family Team Today

If you have failed to receive court-ordered child support payments, you have legal options available to you. Life can be busy with children, work, and everything else life has to throw your way. Know that your right to collect child support arrears does not expire. The dedicated child support attorneys at Orlando Family Team will help you pursue the child support you are owed. Contact us today.

Lawyer and client discussing his child support agreement.

How Long Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

Child support is intended to be, as the name suggests, payments to support care for a child or children. They are court-ordered and are usually made by the noncustodial parent to the parent with primary or sole custody. The battles waged over child support often do not end with divorce being finalized. There are modification battles and non-payment battles that frequently pop up. The strain of payment and non-payment of child support will have many people wondering: how long do you have to pay child support?

When does child support end?

Under current Florida law, all child support orders must contain an end date for the payment of child support. Usually, the end date is the child’s 18th birthday. If there are multiple children involved in the child support order, the order should contain different dates for each child. 

While it is the default for child support to end when a child reaches 18 years of age, there are instances when child support may end prior to the child’s 18th birthday. For instance, Florida law would assume that a child would no longer need to be supported by his or her parents if the minor child:

  • Got married
  • Entered the military
  • Applied for emancipation

In the alternative, child support payment may be required past the age of 18 in certain situations. Florida statutes have a provision for extending child support until your child reaches the age of 19. This happens in instances when the child has not or will not graduate high school by his or her 18th birthday. 

The child support payments will then be set to end upon graduation from high school. However, Florida law also grants the option of ending child support early even in these types of cases. If your child is definitely not on track to graduate from high school prior to the age of 19, then child support will still end on the child’s 18th birthday. While it may not have been the intention of creating such a provision in the law, it does work to encourage parents to help ensure the child graduates from high school on time.

While 19 years old is the maximum age of the child for a parent to continue paying a child support obligation, there are rare instances where child support continues after the age of 19 and may not even have an end date. This happens when a child has special needs that prevent him or her from ever becoming a self-supporting adult. If your child has such needs, the special needs status must be recognized in the final child support court order. If it has not been included, your child reaches the age of 18, and child support has ended, then the case to continue child support cannot be reopened.

Florida Child Support Attorneys

Child support laws are intricate and it can be difficult to follow the specifics. That is why the trusted child support attorneys at the Orlando Family Team make sure to counsel their clients in a way that an understanding of the law and its requirements are made clear. We want you to understand what is going on as we work to protect the best interests of you and your family. Contact us today.

Orlando Family Team discusses what you should expect at a child support modification hearing.

What Happens at a Child Support Modification Hearing?

Child support is court-ordered and must be paid to the custodial parent. After a child support order is entered, it can only be modified by the court under certain circumstances. A parent may only petition the court for child support modifications if one parent has experienced a “substantial change in circumstances.” Usually, this means something like one parent has experienced something like a job loss or a job change that affected their income. At the child support modification hearing, the court will determine whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances that merits modifying the existing child support order. 

Child Support Modification

One parent may have remarried or lost a job. A parent may be experiencing a period of financial hardship caused by something like an illness or a serious injury. One parent may even have been incarcerated. Whatever the substantial change in circumstance may be, both parents will have to present their case at the child support modification hearing. At a child support modification hearing, the court will hear from the parents. If either of the parents has chosen to retain a lawyer, the lawyers will represent them in court. Children are not usually present at child support modification hearings.

Child support is calculated using the income of both parents. This means that at a child support hearing or a child support modification hearing, both parties will need to present evidence about their current income levels and financial status. This evidence can be documentation including tax returns and pay stubs. The court will also need to see a copy of the custody agreement.

At the modification hearing, the parent who is requesting the child support modification will present a statement relating to the request and present any documentation supporting the basis for requesting the modification. Each parent will have the opportunity to present arguments to support his or her stance on the modification being proposed.

After weighing all of the evidence and arguments presented, the court will rule on the requested modification. The request may be denied. In this case, the child support order already in place will continue to be enforced as is. The request may be granted. If the modification is granted, the new child support amount will be paid as soon as the judgment is filed by the court. This, however, can take up to several months.

Florida Child Support Attorney

If you are looking to modify an existing child support order, talk to the dedicated child support attorneys at the Orlando Family Team. We can go over your situation with you and help you gather the documentation you need to present a solid case for modification. There is a lot of information to sift through when you are dealing with the family court system. You can count on us to clarify the often murky waters of family law. Contact us today.

The Orlando Family Team discusses how child support is calculated in the state of Florida.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

The State of Florida follows an “income shares model” in order to determine what the base amount of child support is in a case. With this model as guidance, the court will try and approximate how much money the parents would have spent on their children had they stayed together. This estimated amount will then be divided between the two parents. The court will look to the income of each parent, among other factors, to divide this amount between the two of them.

Child Support

In order to establish a child support order, the court will use the Florida Child Support Guidelines provided by Florida Statute 61.30. The amount calculated by the guidelines is presumptive and, in most cases, will be the amount the court ends up ordering. The court can deviate five percent above or below the guidelines amount but must make specific written findings that explain why it was necessary to deviate from the guidelines.

For the court to complete the child support calculation, both parents are required to submit completed financial affidavits that detail their income and expenses. The affidavits must be filed with the court and the other party must receive a copy. The affidavits start off by calculating the gross income of the party. If it seems as though a parent may be attempting to be “underemployed” or unemployed to try and get out of paying more child support, a court has the right to impute income to that party.

Once the gross income is calculated, each party has the ability to take deductions for certain expenses in order to reach net income. The net income for each party are added together and the court applies this calculation to the Child Support Guidelines to see how much child support should be awarded. The net income of the parties and the number of children really are the primary factors involved in the child support calculation.

Above and beyond the child support calculation reached by the Child Support Guidelines, other expenses above and beyond those taken into consideration by the guidelines must be divided between the parties. Educational expenses, healthcare expenses, health insurance costs, and childcare expenses are all additional support items that must be properly divided between the parties. They are expenses that must be paid above and beyond the amount calculated by the Child Support Guidelines.

Child Support Attorneys

Child support payment is a hotly contested issue in family law. The amount of child support ordered can have a substantial impact on your finances. If you are ever unable to pay the ordered child support amount, you can end up in big trouble and even be held in contempt of court. Let the trusted family law attorneys at the Orlando Family Team help ensure that child support is accurately calculated and accurately reflects your ability to pay or how much you need to properly provide for your child. Contact us today.

Child Support Modification

To calculate the amount of child support payments a parent will be responsible for paying, the court will look at several factors such as the income of each parent as well as things like the costs associated with childcare. These things, however, can change. Either parent may later make more or less money. The child may no longer need daycare and, thus, child care costs would significantly decrease. For whatever reason, factors used in the original child support calculation can change. Because of this, you may be able to seek a child support modification.

When Can You Request a Child Support Modification?

Florida courts use the state child support guidelines to determine child support. Usually, the court must order the amount of child support that is calculated according to the guidelines. A child support order, however, may be modified later on when one of the parents can demonstrate that there has been a “substantial change in circumstance.” The parent requesting the modification carries the burden of proving that there has been a substantial change. The requested change may be for an increase or decrease in the amount of child support.

For a decrease in child support payments to be granted, the substantial change in circumstances may be something such as:

  • The payer spouse lost a job or experienced a substantial decrease in income;
  • The receiving spouse had an increase in income; or
  • There was a decrease in the expenses relating to the child.

For an increase in child support payments to be granted, the substantial change in circumstances may be something such as:

  • The receiving spouse lost a job or experienced a substantial decrease in income;
  • The payer spouse had an increase in income; or
  • There was an increase in the expenses relating to the child.

Whatever the substantial change in circumstances may be, the revised income must result in the child support amount increasing or decreasing by a minimum of 15% or $50, whichever is greater.

In addition to the above, there may also have been a substantial shift in parenting time that would merit modification of child support. If there has been a deviation between parenting time as it was outlined in the parenting plan and the actual parenting plan in practice, then the court may decide to recalculate child support based on the actual parenting plan in practice. 

Orlando Family Law Attorneys

You cannot designate a child support award as something that cannot be modified. If the basic requirements for modification exist, the child support award will always be modifiable under Florida law. If you are seeking an increase or decrease in a child support amount, contact the team of dedicated family law attorneys at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou. Do not wait until you are unable to make child support payments to seek a modification. The consequences for failure to pay court ordered child support are severe. Contact us today.

Child support with money in background

How Will Child Support Be Calculated in Your Divorce?

If you are in the process of a divorce and have children, you may have questions about child support. In the state of Florida, the amount you will pay for child support is calculated using the “Income Share Model.” This formula is used to determine how much you will pay each week or month to your ex-spouse for your children’s expenses until they reach the age of maturity.

In essence, the court is trying to provide your children with the same amount of financial support they would have received if you and your spouse were not divorcing. Florida Statute 61.30 dictates how much a person will pay in child support based on their income. That income amount is presumptive, meaning the courts must order child support in that amount.

How Courts Determine General Child Support Payments

The court has plenty of flexibility in its ultimate determination. If it is deemed necessary, the court can increase or decrease payments by 5 percent. For example, if the presumptive amount you should pay is $200 per month, the judge may order an amount between $190 and $210. The court can vary from the guidelines by more than 5 percent if they make a written finding explaining their decision. This description will explain why they believe this deviation from the presumptive amount is warranted.

To determine how much child support a spouse will pay, a judge will want financial affidavits from each party. If your gross income is less than $50,000 per year, you will fill out Form 902(b). If you make more than that amount each year, you will fill out Form 902(c). The forms come with their own sets of instructions and will explain what type of income information must be included.

How Other Child Support Payments are Determined

Once these forms have been filled out, you will complete the child support guidelines worksheet. Amounts of net income from the financial affidavits will be considered, and financial obligations will be determined. Once an amount has been calculated for general child support, the judge will divide other costs. For example, your child support payment plan may not include paying for extra-curricular activities. In your case, the judge will determine who pays for these extra costs or how they will be divided among both spouses.

Can Child Support Payments Change?

Child support payments are not set in stone forever. Under certain circumstances, they can be modified. If your financial situation— or the financial situation of your spouse— changes in the future, the court can be petitioned to modify the amount of support paid. For example, if the spouse accepting child support begins to earn more, the amount of child support may be lessened. If the person making child support payments begins to earn less, they may be ordered to pay less. It is completely up to the court’s discretion.

If you need assistance with child support or any other type of family law matter in Orlando, please reach out to our office today. We will review your needs and determine how we can best assist you. Call us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

Father and daughter

How Losing Your Job Affects Child Support

You’ve been ordered to pay child support based on your income. That income is based on your continued employment. So what happens when you lose your job? Your child support payments don’t disappear. Even if you can’t pay your child support, ignoring it is one of the worst things you can do. Your payments will fall into arrears and you will very likely face arrest.

If you become unemployed and can’t keep up with your child support payments, the first thing you should do is consult your attorney. You may be able to have your support payments or schedule modified. The sooner you contact your attorney the better.

Temporary or Permanent Modification

If you and your ex-spouse can agree on modifying the terms of your child support order, you can put that agreement in writing and present it to a judge. On the other hand, if you can’t agree on a modification, the judge will make the order after holding a hearing and listening to your evidence and proposed modification.

When a judge grants a modification of your child support, it may be either temporary or permanent. For example, if you cannot pay your child support because you’ve lost your job, the modification will most likely be temporary. A judge will reasonably expect that you will return to work in the future and once again be able to make your ordered payments.

Whether you are seeking a temporary or permanent modification, you must have a significant amount of evidence to prove your case. A judge will want to know why you’ve lost employment, what you’ve done to gain new employment and how much less you are currently making.

Modifications May Not Be Ordered

Just because you’ve lost your job doesn’t mean that a judge will modify your payments. This is because child support payments can be collected from different sources, including unemployment. Do not stop making payments with the assumption that your support payments will be modified.

If you decide to ask to have your payments modified, you must do so in the court that issued the child support in the first place. Your modification papers will also be served to your ex-spouse, and a hearing will take place.

Losing a job can be stressful for more reasons than one. If you have lost your job and are truly unable to make your child support payments, contact your attorney immediately. The sooner you act, the more likely a court of law will look upon your case favorably.

If you need assistance with modifying child support or other family law matters in Orlando, please reach out to our team. We are here to assist you. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation.