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What is Child Support, and When does it Occur in Florida?

Child support in Florida is an enforceable court order mandating a parent or guardian to pay the custodial parent funds for the support of a child. Child support is usually a post-divorce order between two parties where children were involved. The details of child support are contained in the divorce decree that is issued to the divorcing parties. Cases of child support come under Family law, and the trial courts of general jurisdiction handle them, that is, the Circuit Courts. There are a total of 20 Circuits Courts that serve the 67 counties in the state. Child support orders are enforced in partnership with the Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Services. Here, payments are made by the payers of funds to the payees for the upkeep of the child.

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What is Florida Child Support?

According to the Florida State Statutes on Child Support, the court can order either or both parents who owe a child's duty of support to pay the parent in the custody of the child. If a third party has custody, both parents can be ordered to pay the custodian support for the minor's basic needs. Such payments are based on clearly stated guidelines set by the Florida legislature. Except agreed by both parents; otherwise, child support is expected to terminate when the child clocks 18 years.

What Does Child Support Cover in Florida?

The purpose of child support is to ensure that the basic requirements for raising a child are fulfilled. These requirements include food, water, electricity, shelter, clothing, education, health, etc.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in Florida?

Florida laws provide official guidelines for child support payments based on a combined calculation of the income of both parents, and the number of minors to be supported. Payment calculations range from as low as $190 for one minor to $3,666 for six children. Paying parents can seek a modification to these values by court order based on the circumstances that influence their current income status. Other reasons the court may modify child support payment include the child's age, the current educational phase, the health or mental needs of the child, etc. Under this law, parents with voluntary unemployment or underemployment will be required to pay a monthly income.

How do I apply for Child Support in Florida?

Child support usually comes with the process of dissolution of marriage in Florida. However, support may fail because of a variety of reasons. Custodial parents can apply for support with the Child Support Program, Florida Department of Revenue (FDR). Applications can be made to open a case for child support by visiting a Child Support Office anywhere within the state. Similarly, requests can be made online or by using e-services. Parents who receive public assistance from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) should not apply for child support as a case has already been opened through the agency.

If the non-custodial parent violates the child support order, the custodial parent can file a complaint with the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Circuit Court, where the child support order was issued. The Child Support Enforcement Division works with FDR to provide the following services:

  • Find missing parents- if the non-custodial parent has absconded from payments and is nowhere to be found, the division can help to search for the defaulting parent with the help of county, state, and federal assistance.
  • Authenticate paternity
  • Entrench financial and medical orders
  • Enforce and modify orders

Persons receiving assistance from DCF or Medicaid must cooperate with the enforcement division to have the child support payments from the non-custodial parent restored. Failure to cooperate may lead to the loss of child support services.

Begin by putting a phone call through to the enforcement division office and complain. A Child Support Staff responds by contacting the applicant for preliminary financial information. If the custodial parent cannot provide the required information, it must be written for the records. After the custodial parent is found, a child support case analyst interviews the custodial parent. Prepare to provide information about any legal case involving the child. The non-custodial parent is after that served with papers signifying court action, and a court date is scheduled. It takes about 4 to 6 months to enforce an existing child support order. It may take longer if the entire process drags unnecessarily. Support orders may be enforced on the non-custodial parent by using methods such as:

  • Auto deductions from the paycheck
  • Jail time
  • Use of liens on property and estate.
  • Freezing bank accounts

How do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Florida?

Child support payments automatically end when the child turns 18 years of age. However, it is possible under state laws to request a modification of the court's payment structure. The first step is to understand the state laws regarding payment plans and exemptions. Next, contact an attorney for expert legal advice on how to proceed with the petition. Another way to reduce child support payments is to swap monetary value for visitation time. It is interpreted that the needed care is given to the minor during the visitation period. Parents wishing to use this method must ensure court approval to avoid litigation. Consult an attorney for legal advice before proceeding with the time swap option.

What is Back Child Support in Florida?

Back child support refers to a collection of child support arrears from the date the application was filed. In Florida, the state laws refer to this as retroactive child support, and the law permits no more than a backdate of 24 months from the date of the application. In some cases, a backdate may not be awarded because there was no need for it, or the paying parent could not afford it. Back support may also accumulate if the paying parent defaults in regular payments.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Florida?

The reason for the backlog of payments usually determines the kind of assistance eligible persons will receive from the Florida Department of Revenue. Some of the legally approved sanctions include:

  • Withholding paychecks
  • Work out a payment plan
  • Confiscation of income tax refunds, re-employment benefits, and lottery wins
  • A court judgment sentencing the defaulting parent to jail
  • Mandatory completion of counseling programs
  • Payment of fines

Is there a Florida Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?

The Statute of Limitations on child support states that receiving parents can no longer collect child support payments when they are grown. Florida laws do not impose this. The state laws permit back payments even after the child support order is no longer active.

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