Family Friday: How Florida Courts Look at Child Support

Determining the outcomes of child support in the state of Florida entails a number of considerations. First and foremost, no parent can refuse to pay child support, even if it is just a small monthly amount.

In Florida custodial parenting is no longer granted with one exception, that of sole custody which is granted only under very strict circumstances due to proven abusive or unfit parenting, or incarceration of the other parent. If a parent feels they are entitled to sole custody it is necessary to seek the services of a child custody attorney as it is highly unlikely an individual can prove extenuating circumstances allowing sole custody on their own.

The term parental time-sharing is now used in Florida Family Law to provide the guidelines for physical custody, where and with who the child will live and how much time each parent shares with the child, including over-nights, and legal custody, the shared decision making for education, medical, discipline, and religion. Child support will be awarded on the basis of percentage of time spent with the child, number of over-nights, specific needs of child in question, and income and potential income of each spouse. In is important to note an over-night is considered when a child actually sleeps at a legal caregivers, usually the parent’s, home. Visitation with a child from, say, six in the morning to ten at night would not count as an over-night.

Once the parental time-sharing schedule has been completed and approved either in mediation or by a judge in court, the amount of child support will be determined. There is a generic dollar amount chart for Florida child support but as each case is different, there are many considerations, which will be taken into account. This is where a child support lawyer is really essential for obtaining the best outcomes. It is often true the dollars spent in hiring a competent, experienced child support lawyer will be more than made up by the amount of child support awarded. While it is true there is now a computer program to do the final figuring, the information put into the computer is best done by a professional.

But what happens when the parent adjudicated to pay child support fails to pay and arrearages become a problem. In Florida child support is not an option it is a legal responsibility there are two choices.

The party awarded child support, and this can sometimes be a third party such as a legal guardian, can have the Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement pursue the case at no cost. This, however, usually takes a long time to come before a judge as there are over a thousand cases being serviced at a time. Too, there is no contact with the child support lawyer representing you until your day in court so essentially there is no time to hear your story and prepare you for questioning.

The second choice is to hire a qualified and experienced child support lawyer who will be able to work with you personally and bring the matter to court in a much shorter period of time. The judge has a number of possible methods to help bring child support up to date including but not limited to, incarceration up to 179 days, canceling a passport, giving tax refund monies from the owing party to the party owed back support, garnishing a bank account, and suspending a car/truck license plate and registration and even the offending party’s driver’s license.

Florida cares about their children and in fact goes by the watchwords “In the best interest of the child”. Child support arrearages are not acceptable!

Written byGisondo P.A.Source