Tampa Child Support Attorneys Answer Your Questions about Child Support in Florida
The responsibility to financially support the children falls on both parents throughout their children’s childhood, regardless of whether the parents are married, divorced or were never married in the first place. In a divorce, paternity proceeding or action for child support, the court will decide how much child support a parent should be ordered to pay, and this order is enforceable in court if the parent fails to pay. At Cortes Hodz Family Law & Mediation, P.A., our marital and family law attorneys are here to help ensure that children get the financial support they need and that parents are treated fairly when it comes to determining child support. See below for answers to common questions about child support in Florida, and contact our office in Tampa for help with child support in Hillsborough, Pinellas or Pasco County.
How long does child support last?
Child support payments typically terminate when the child turns 18. However, if the child turns 18 but is still in high school, child support can last until the individual graduates. If the child has special needs due to a disability, then the court may order child support payments to continue indefinitely or as long as needed.
The right to receive child support belongs to the child, and a parent can’t waive the child’s right to support in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or during a divorce proceeding. It’s possible that the parties in mediation or collaborative divorce could agree that the children are adequately supported without requiring one parent to pay support to the other, but this agreement would need to meet the approval of the court.
How is the amount of child support determined?
The Florida child support guidelines determine the monthly amount of child support using a formula that includes the incomes of both parents, the number of children to be supported, and the division of parenting time established in the child custody arrangement. Other factors such as childcare expenses, health care expenses and health insurance for the children are also considered.
When considering each parent’s gross income, a wide variety of income sources are considered. These include salary, bonuses, commissions, tips, self-employment business income, disability benefits, pension and social security payments, alimony from a previous marriage, interest and dividends, rental income, royalties, gains from real estate transactions, and more. While you may expect all parents to report this information fully and accurately for the benefit of the children, some parents may falsely report income by mistake or under or overreport income to influence how much child support gets paid. Our Tampa child support lawyers can help ensure that all income is reported completely and correctly, including difficult or complex situations when a parent is self-employed or a business owner, or is unemployed or underemployed.
Can the court order a different amount of support than the guidelines amount?
The judge can deviate up or down from the guidelines amount as the circumstances require. The judge can deviate as much as five percent for good reason, after considering factors such as the child’s needs, age, station in life and standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. The court can also deviate more than five percent if it would be unjust or inappropriate not to, such as the case where one parent has substantially more parenting time than the other.
Can the amount of child support be modified if circumstances change?
Before child support can be modified, the parent must be able to show a substantial change in circumstances that would justify a change, such as a change in the children’s financial needs or a change in the paying parent’s ability to pay. Unless the difference in the monthly obligation from the guidelines is the greater of at least 15% or $50, then the court by law cannot find a substantial change in circumstances. Call our office if you are seeking or opposing a proposed modification or termination of support.
What if the other parent is not paying child support as required?
If the parent is not paying on time or is not paying the full amount ordered, there are many different tools at your disposal. For instance, you can go to court to seek enforcement of the court’s orders, and the judge can hold the parent in contempt of court. You can also seek an Income Withholding Order, garnishment of wages or a levy against real or personal property such as retirement accounts and bank accounts. In instances where an Income Withholding Order is in place and a parent’s employer is not withholding support from the parent’s paycheck as required, it is possible to seek contempt and payment directly from the employer. Our child support lawyers are happy to visit with you and explain your options.
Get Help with Child Support in Your Tampa Divorce or Child Custody Dispute
For help determining child support in a divorce, child custody dispute, paternity proceeding or other marital and family law matter in Hillsborough, Pinellas or Pasco County, call the law firm of Cortes Hodz Family Law & Mediation, P.A. in Tampa for a free, initial consultation.