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Child Support and Arrearages

Specifics of CHILD SUPPORT AND ARREARAGES law
Home > Child Support and Arrearages

Child Support and Arrearages

When a child has been born to a couple who are now desiring a divorce, or who have been together in a relationship and are leaving that relationship, there is always the issue of child support. In the state of Florida child support cannot be waived, even if the parties wish to do so. Additionally, in Florida all child support orders are modifiable which means a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances can be brought into court for a change in the amount of child support. The dollar amount can be raised or lowered depending on the needs of the children, the amount of income each parent makes and the number of overnight each parent spends with the child. Child support monies are to be used for the care and nurturing of minor children, and the expenses related to the upbringing of the child such as health insurance and daycare up to the age of l8. Sometimes dependent children in college or children with special needs, which will continue into their adult years, will also be part of a child support decision. While it is intended that child support monies will be used for the children’s expenses, the state does not monitor how the money is spent or require any proof of how the money is used. Child support judgments can also contain the method of payment from one parent to another, the most popular method being the paying parent giving the court the amount due and the court then forwarding that amount to the receiving parent. This method provides a paper trail of proof, which will be needed if arrearages become apparent.

What are the Florida state guidelines for determining the amount of child support?

There are a number of factors, which will be considered before a final amount is set. The most important guideline in Florida is that the state mandates child support to be in the best interest of the child, not the best interest of the parent. In other words, parents may not always be happy with how the court rules and may need to make some sacrifices in their own lifestyle to make sure their child/children are properly taken care of.

 

After taking into account how many minor and special need children are involved, one of the most important factors, in setting child support, is the number of overnights a child will have at each parent’s house. Spending a complete day with your child does not count as an overnight; the child must spend the entire night for it to count. Other factors to be considered will be what are typical expenses incurred by each parent in caring for the child, what is the income and earning potential of each parent, how much is each parent presently contributing to the care of the child, and if there are any special needs that are on-going such as health or educational issues.

 

Before taking into consideration the factors of each individual case, Florida law has developed a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, which is a chart showing the minimum support payment a parent is required to make. It is at this point where Attorney Gisondo will be most helpful as there will likely be other factors toward setting the child support amount and he will know how to proceed and which factors can be used. He will be able to file a Motion to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Court Law Form 12.943 which is required if either parent wishes to deviate from the state child support guidelines. A computer program has been developed which will, given all the pertinent information, figure the amount to be awarded at mediation or by the judge.

Can a third person, such as a grandparent caregiver or private caregiver, be eligible to receive some or all of the support?

Yes, others who have custody and are legally responsible for a child’s care can be the recipient of child support monies.

What about health and life insurance?

These issues are important and will be handled separately from the child support award. Attorney Gisondo will guide you in these matters.

What happens if child support is not paid and becomes in arrears?

As long as there is a court ordered award for child support, the parent or person not receiving the adjudicated amount has two options.

 

First it is possible to have the Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement handle your case at no cost to you. However, the waiting period can be months as they usually are servicing over a thousand cases at a time. Too, you never speak to or see the attorney representing you until the day of your court hearing so there is really no time to prepare on a personal level.

 

Your second choice is to use a qualified, Florida Family Law attorney. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, Port St, Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough county a good choice is Attorney Gisondo, PA who is experienced and knowledgeable in the area of child support arrears and would be able to give your case personal attention in a timely manner.

What steps can be taken to help ensure the delinquent parent will pay the back amount owed?

A judge in Florida can order several methods of enforcement, all of which require competent legal work, which Attorney Gisondo is well qualified to handle. The most frequently used methods include:

 

  • Incarceration of the parent in arrears for up to 179 days in jail or until part or all of the arrears are paid
  • Garnishing the bank account of the parent in arrears until the owed amount is paid in full
  • Suspending a car registration, license plate and even the license of the offending parent until at least part of the amount owed is paid
  • Canceling the owing parent’s passport until the full amount owed is paid
  • Taking the income tax refund monies of the parent in arrears and using it towards paying off the amount owed.

All in all, the state of Florida tries it’s best to see the children of broken relationships receive the financial help they deserve for a healthy and enriching life.

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