With MOST family law cases, child support questions are the number one topic of conversation. Whether you were married and now divorced, or never married but share a child together, child support is an issue that needs to be addressed. We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you better understand child support laws in Florida.
Q. How is child support calculated in Florida?
The amount of Child support is established based on the Florida Child Support Guidelines formula. The formula takes into consideration the net income of both parents and things like the cost of health insurance premiums, and daycare costs for the child/children. The formula also accounts for the number of over-nights the child/children spend with each parent. The Child Support “guidelines” are contained in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes.
The Florida Department of Revenue uses a calculator to determine the specific amount to child support to be paid by the parents. More information on how child support is calculated can be found here.
When child support is initially determined, retroactive support may be established for the time period between the date the parents separated and the date that the child support order goes into effect. If the parties separated more than twenty-four months prior to the filing of the action requesting child support, retroactive support will generally be capped at twenty-four months. The law regarding retroactive Child Support is also found in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes.
Q. Can I get my child support increased or decreased in Florida?
In Florida, child support can be modified at any time based upon a showing of a substantial, permanent and unanticipated change in circumstances. What constitutes a substantial change in circumstances includes but is not limited to, the loss of a job, the termination of the child’s attendance at daycare, the disability of a parent, an increase in the costs of health insurance or daycare, or a substantial increase or decrease (15% or greater) in either parent’s income.
Further, a permanent change is one that has lasted or is anticipated to last for one year or more. Generally, a modification can only be effective as of the date of filing of the action for modification. Therefore, any arrears that accrued due to non-payment of child support after the loss of a job but before the modification action was filed will remain due and owing. The law regarding modification is found in Section 61.13, Florida Statutes.
Q. How is child support enforced in Florida?
There are two options for enforcing court ordered child support in the state of Florida. You can hire a family law attorney to present your case in court and/or you can utilize the Florida Department of Revenue to enforce the order. The Department of Revenue has the authority to garnish wages, suspend driver's licenses and passports, seize bank accounts, relinquish tax refunds, and even order non-paying parents spend time in jail. Often times, hiring a family law attorney AND utilizing the Department of Revenue's child support enforcement services will have the best outcome.
Q. How long will I be required to pay child support in Florida?
Florida law states that a child is entitled to child support up until the age of 18 OR upon the date of their high school graduation. If the child will be older than 18 years of age on the date of their high school graduation, child support will be obligated until such date, but no longer than the child's 20th birthday. One caveat to the law ensures that a child who is not making progress towards high school graduation and reaches the age of 18 is no longer entitled to support. For example, if your child drops out of high school at 16, you are no longer obligated to provide the ordered child support util their 18th birthday.
Q. What happens with child support that is still owed to me after my child is an adult in Florida?
In the event you are owed child support after your child is of legal age (18-years-old) there is no limit of time given that prevents you for trying to obtain the support in the arrears. This can be helpful for a parent who is owed thousands in back child support, but maybe unable to locate the obligor for years. And also an incentive for parents ordered to pay support to stay up to date. If there is still child support due, no matter your child's age or how much time has passed, it will technically always be owed.
Every child support case is unique, and each family will face individual challenges. Hiring an experienced family law attorney can take the guess work out of the best steps to take for your particular case. The team at Max Factor Law has been assisting families just like yours for over 25 years in the Tallahassee area and looks forward to helping you resolve your child support issues. Contact us today to schedule your consultation at 850-577-1699.