Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support
Parents are legally obligated to support their minor children, even if they divorce and one parent has sole parenting responsibility. Child support payments typically end on a child’s 18th birthday, but the support might continue if the child is still in high school or if the child has special needs.
Florida has specific guidelines to determine how much parents should pay in child support. Generally, payments are based on the child’s needs, timesharing, and the parents’ financial situation. Here are eight frequently asked questions about your child support responsibilities:
Q: How are child support payments actually calculated?
A: There are specific guidelines for how much support is needed based on the parents’ combined net income (gross income, minus certain exclusions and deductions), timesharing, specifically overnights, and the number of children in the household. An experienced attorney can help determine what your support obligation will be, but keep in mind that these are just guidelines. The court might order more or less support based on the child’s needs.
Q: How is gross income determined?
A: The parents’ income is how courts determine how much they can afford to pay in child support. Gross income is based on salaries or wages, bonuses (including commissions and tips), disability benefits, social security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment compensation, pension payments, spousal support from a previous marriage, interest and dividends, and rental income, among other types of income.
Q: Can I exclude or deduct income for child support purposes?
A: Yes. Public assistance is excluded from gross income. Allowable deductions include income tax, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement payments, health insurance payments (excluding payments that provide coverage for the child), and spousal support (either from a prior marriage or the one currently going through divorce).
Q: Do I need life insurance?
A: The court might order one or both parents to purchase life insurance to ensure that the child continues receiving the necessary support.
Q: How do I make child support payments?
A: You pay the government, and the government disburses the payment. You can make child support payments online by credit card or electronic check. Or pay by cash using a money transfer service. Or physically mail a check to the Florida State Disbursement Unit.
Q: What does child support cover?
A: Child support covers the child’s needs, food, shelter, health insurance, education and recreational activities.
Q: Can the original child support order be modified?
A: Yes, but you have to prove a substantial change in circumstances, like if you lost your job.
Q: What happens when a parent refuses to make timely payments?
A: There are several options for forcing delinquent parents to pay child support. An experienced attorney can help you enforce a child support order.
Let Us Help You Today
The family law attorneys at the Williams & Varsegi, LLC, can help you obtain child support, whether during a paternity or divorce proceeding or later on if a delinquent parent stops making payments. Reach out to us today in Coral Springs or Boca Raton for a complimentary consultation with our legal team.