While we all want what’s best for our children, determining the amount and timing of child support payments frequently leads to disputes between divorcing parents. Nonetheless, all parents in Florida have a duty to support their children. If you are going through a divorce, it is essential to consult an experienced family law attorney who will fight to protect your children’s interests.
Orlando Family Team is a premier family law practice serving clients throughout Central Florida. Well-versed in the applicable child support laws and guidelines, our husband and wife team understand the needs and concerns of parents because we have children of our own. Whether you are seeking to establish, modify, or enforce a support order, we have successfully represented mothers and fathers in support disputes and will work closely with you to resolve your matter.
How is child support determined in Florida?
Generally, the courts make child support determinations based on the custody and time-sharing agreement. Typically, the noncustodial parent will be required to make payments unless custody is shared, in which case the number of overnights with each parent is taken into consideration.
The amount of support is based on Florida’s child support guidelines which consider factors such as:
- The income and earning abilities of each parent
- The child’s standard of living
- Healthcare and daycare costs
- The cost of extracurricular activities
The court may deviate from the guidelines by 5 percent, however, when it is reasonable and necessary to do so, based on the following factors:
- Extraordinary educational or medical expenses
- Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ income
- Age of the child or children
- Expenses related to special needs
- Independent income of the child
- The total assets of the parents and children
- Any changes in the amount of time-sharing for a parent
- Any other reason that should be considered in order to make the payments equitable
Orlando Family Team has extensive experience handling child support matters in all types of divorce situations. We handle each unique case with the care it deserves and will work quickly and efficiently to meet your needs. We are highly skilled at resolving a diverse range of complex matters, such as those involving a parent with undisclosed income or assets, a parent who is self-employed, and a parent who has defaulted on payments previously. Above all, we are committed to making sure mothers and fathers have the resources to care for their children after a divorce.
Under Florida law, both the payer and the recipient of child support can request a modification, provided that they can demonstrate there has been a significant change in circumstances. Situations that might warrant a modification include:
- Significant reduction in income of either party due to involuntary job loss, hospitalization, or long-term health concerns
- An increase in income due to a promotion, new employment, or business venture that offsets the child support equation
- Child is emancipated or there is a decrease in children’s care expenses (e.g. daycare no longer required)
- Health insurance becomes available and cost of insurance is incurred
In any event, the court will only modify an order if the new amount is at least 15 percent more or less (or $50.00 per month, whichever is greater) than the previous amount. If you have experienced a significant change in circumstances since your divorce was finalized, Orlando Family team can assist you with petitioning the court for a child support modification.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
If the paying parent fails to meet his or her child support obligation, it may be necessary to ask the court to enforce the order. Some steps the court may take include wage garnishment (ordering payments to be automatically deducted from the non-paying parent’s paycheck), placing a lien on real property or even seizing bank accounts. If the parent is a repeat offender, the court may hold him or her in contempt, which could result in a prison sentence and fines. The courts are generally reluctant to imprison a deadbeat parent, however, since he or she will not be able to earn income to comply with the order.
Call Our Central Florida Child Support Attorneys
Whether parents divorce or were never married, both parents are responsible for contributing to the costs of a child’s upbringing. If you are considering a divorce, it is crucial to understand the complicated rules governing child support in Florida. When you consult Orlando Family Team, we will take the time to explain the state’s child support guidelines and make sure your children are protected. If you are a single parent seeking child support, we will stand by you and fight for the support your child deserves. As parents, we are committed to protecting the welfare of children as well as the rights of mothers and fathers. Please contact our office today to speak with our dedicated child support attorneys.