Family Law & Divorce Law Firm
Tallahassee Child Support Lawyer
If you have children and are no longer with their other parent, you likely have financial concerns. Whether you need to establish child support of modify it, a child support lawyer can help you with the process. Many parents are able to come to an agreement that benefits all parties involved. By working with an experienced attorney, you can minimize time in court and make sure you protect your rights.
At Liebenhaut Hesser, we have extensive experience working with clients who have an array of family law issues. Contact us today at 850-270-6977 to consult with a child support attorney about your situation.
Understanding Florida Child Support Laws
In Florida, when parents separate, both are expected to provide support for their children. Child support may include housing, food, utilities, and other needs of children. One parent may provide for these needs by directly paying bills, while the other may pay a monetary amount in support of the child. Typically, the parent who spends the least amount of physical time with a child pays financial child support to the other parent. However, the court considers many factors when determining child support.
Florida uses a shared income model or “Income Shares Model” that seeks to provide the children of separated parents with a living situation that would exist if their parents were together. If both parents have equal incomes and the children spend an equal amount of time with both parents, then child support would be zero. However, if one parent makes more money than the other and children spend more time with one parent than the other, the court may make a child support order to provide a balanced living situation for the children at the homes of both parents.
What Do Florida Courts Consider When Determining Child Support?
Florida courts utilize child support guidelines to determine how much money should be paid by both parents in child support. Other factors are considered, including how much money each parent pays for health insurance, daycare, and other costs. The parent who owes the larger amount of support monetarily would be the one who pays fewer bills and spends the least amount of time with the children physically. In the end, the parent who owes more in financial child support pays the other parent money.
Florida child support guidelines are outlined for parents who make a combined income of between $800 and $10,000 per month. If combined incomes are under $800 or over $10,000, the court will utilize a different method to calculate child support. However, the parameters for determining child support in Florida will still consider income and expenses of the children. If you make under $800 or over $10,000 per month combined with your ex-partner, then it’s important to work with a child support lawyer to properly determine your support percentage.
What Does Income Include?
When considering income, the court will calculate the amount that you make each month. Your income will include the following:
- Overtime pay
- Self-employment income
- Income from businesses, partnerships, or corporations
- Workers’ comp benefits
- Unemployment income
- Disability benefits
- Pensions and retirement amounts
- Annuity payments
- Social Security income
- Rental income
- Interests and dividends
If one parent or both parents are not employed, or if they are voluntarily underemployed, then the court may impute an amount of income on them. If a parent is underemployed, or making less than they could, the court may review recent work history to determine an amount to impute on them.
Deductions the Court Allows
When calculating income, you may reduce the total amount by specifically allowed deductions, including the following:
- Premiums paid for health insurance of the children
- Daycare expenses
- Taxes, including federal, state, and local
- Child support and alimony paid according to other court orders
- Union fees and dues
- Federal insurance amounts, such as Medicare and social security
- Retirement amounts that are mandatory
Florida child support guidelines can be complex. The calculation may consider many different aspects of your income and expenses. Contact a child support lawyer to find out more about how your income fits into the Florida child support guidelines.
Deviation From Florida Child Support Guidelines
While Florida courts utilize an established guideline to determine how much child support a parent should pay, it is possible to seek a deviation from these guidelines. There are many reasons that you may want to seek a deviation if the amount of child support is unfair in some way. You may feel that the non-custodial parent should pay more or that you should pay less. The court will consider the following when establishing child support that deviates from the guidelines:
- Taxes paid by both parents
- Mandatory deductions from income
- Daycare costs
- Extraordinary medical or dental costs
- Educational costs that exceed normal costs
- Children who have independent incomes
- Total available assets of both parents
A child support lawyer can help you understand factors that may contribute to a deviation from the Florida child support guidelines. Your situation is different from any other, so you deserve a knowledgeable divorce attorney who will develop a personalized approach to your situation.
What Can Child Support Be Used For?
Child support is to be used for the benefit of children, including the costs of raising them, housing them, and providing for their well-being. Parents who spend a significant amount of time with their children encounter child-related expenses every day. The receiving parent can use child support to pay bills, provide clothing for children, pay for educational and medical expenses, and more. The court doesn’t pose restrictions because parents often encounter unexpected expenses.
However, if you feel your child’s other parent is not providing for your child appropriately, then you may challenge any neglect that you feel is occurring. Contact a child support lawyer to find out your options about challenging or modifying child support after the court has issued it.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay Child Support?
Child support is typically ordered through the court. If you fail to comply with a court order, the court may take action to enforce the order by doing one of the following:
- withholding payments from your wages,
- garnishing your bank account or tax refund, or
- holding you in contempt for failing to comply with a court order.
A contempt order may become a criminal issue. If the court has held you in contempt or threatened you regarding your child support payments, you should immediately consult with a child support lawyer to find out how to deal with your specific situation.
If you do not pay child support for an extended period of time, or the court orders you to pay child support after a long period of not paying, you may have to pay retroactive child support payments. The court usually determines these payments according to Florida child support guidelines. However, your income and expenses may have changed. A child support attorney can help you with retroactive child support payment determination.
Can I Still See My Children If I Don’t Pay Child Support?
Child support and visitation are two separate issues. If you fail to pay child support on time, the other parent cannot withhold your children from visiting you. If you have questions about your parental rights, you should talk to a child support attorney right away. Even if you are behind on your child support payments, you have a right to see your children.
Call a Child Support Lawyer About Establishing or Modifying Child Support
If you have questions about your child support situation, or if you have received legal documents from your child’s other parent, contact Liebenhaut Hesser to learn about your legal options. Call a Tallahassee child support lawyer at 850-270-6977 for a consultation.