Child Support Attorney in Jacksonville
In Florida, in any divorce or paternity case, both parents are legally obligated to provide support for their minor child or children. The child support is not for the personal use of the receiving parent and the parents do not have the right to waive child support. The child support is the child(ren)'s money and is to be used for their exclusive use. The purpose of child support is to ensure that the child's basic needs for food, clothing and shelter are met and, additionally, to allow the child to share in the wealth and good fortune of the parent who is required to pay child support.
Child support is determined by the Florida Child Support Guidelines. There is a formula that is used to calculate the amount of child support to be paid by both the parents and this formula takes into account the net income of both parents, and certain specified expenses including but not limited to the health insurance premiums being paid for both the parents and the children, and the children's daycare costs, if any. In addition, the formula also takes into consideration the number of overnights the child or children spend with each parent. If the parent with less time has at least 73 overnights each year, then the amount of time-sharing will be included in the calculation of child support and will force an adjustment to the child support obligation. This reduction in child support is based upon the consideration that both parents will need to provide food, clothing and shelter for the child or children while they are in that parent's care.
At the time when child support is initially established, 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. Or, if the parties separated more than twenty-four months prior to the filing of the action requesting child support, retroactive support may be established for a period starting twenty-four months prior to the date of filing through the date the child support obligation becomes effective.
What are the Child Support Guidelines?
The main factors for the calculation of child support are:
- The number of children.
- The net incomes of both parties.
- The daycare expenses expected.
- The cost of health insurance for the minor children.
- Any extraordinary expenses for the minor children.
- The number of overnights each parent has with the child.
Oftentimes, the court orders the child support payments to be made to the parent with whom the child lives, and the other parent must send his or her child support payment to him or her. The parent who has the child then combines the child support payments and applies it to the child's expenses.
The court may also have parents pay child support to the state disbursement unit, where the money is collected, noted, and disbursed to the proper parent. Child support payments may also be taken out of paychecks on a voluntary or automatic schedule. The parents must pay the court ordered amount of child support, and cannot at any time pay a lower amount unless it has been approved by the court.
Enforcement of child support orders
Simply because a court issues a support order does not necessarily mean the parent will pay. The State of Florida recognizes that many people do not pay child support and therefore provides methods of enforcing child support orders through the Florida Department of Revenue and the court that issued the order. In some cases, the court may enact wage garnishments – withholding the payor's wages until they resume child support payments. Your attorney will help you identify the best way for you to enforce your child's support order so that you can properly support your child.
Under what circumstances can I change my child support obligation?
Sometimes in a family law procedure, the parties enter into an agreement that works at that time, but in the future, things change and the agreement no longer works or is not applicable to the new circumstances of the parties or the children. Attorney Leanne Pérez represents people who are trying to make changes to an agreement or people who disagree with the suggested changes.
Circumstances change and a support order that once was fair may now be inappropriate. For example, if you suddenly become incapacitated or unable to work, you may need to ask the court to reduce the amount of child support you must pay. On the other hand, if a parent starts earning a lot more money, the other parent can ask the court to require him to pay more child support. Having a lawyer throughout this process is critical as there is often contention from the other parent who does not want the order to be modified.
Child Support from an Unemployed Parent
What if your spouse/ex is currently unemployed or simply doesn’t have any identifiable income? Income can be imputed to an unemployed (or underemployment as the case may be) parent if his or her unemployment (or underemployment) is found by the judge to be voluntary on that parent’s part. However, there is an exception to this: where the judge finds a physical or mental incapacity in the parent, or other circumstances over which the parent has no control, the judge may refuse to impute income to that parent.
One such circumstance that a judge may find as beyond the parent’s control could be that parent’s inability to find a job despite diligent search efforts. In order to prove that you have made diligent search efforts, a judge may look to see what physical or electronic records you have retained from your search, how many applications or resumes you have sent out, and what kind of jobs you have been searching for. It is also important to note that the Court may still refuse to impute income against a parent if it finds that it is necessary for that parent to stay home for the benefit of the minor child.
If the Court decides that the facts of your case support the imputation of income to you or the other parent, the Court will take one of two approaches to determining what the appropriate amount of imputed income should be:
1) The court may base a number on the parent’s recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community; or
2) If information concerning the parent’s income is unavailable, a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or a parent fails to provide sufficient financial information, the parent at issue’s income will be automatically imputed at a level equivalent to the "median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census.”
(As a note to number 2 above, although there is much debate about what report this statute actually references, a good number to go by is $53,657.00, which is listed on the Census’ website as the median household income in the United States as of 2014).
Free Consultation! Call Today 904-990-3066
Child support is an extremely important and complicated matter if you are facing a divorce with children or a paternity case. You should have a lawyer handling your case that understands Florida child support laws. Please call Attorney Leanne Perez today at (904) 990-3066 for a free initial consultation.