When minor children are involved in a divorce, child support orders will almost always come into play, requiring one parent to pay the other parent for the care of the children. Child support obligations should be taken seriously, as severe penalties can occur if payment is not made.
A Brief Overview of Child Support in Florida
In the vast majority of divorces in Florida that involve minor children, child support is mandatory. This means that in most cases, one party will have to pay child support to the spouse whom the child primarily lives with. This obligation cannot be waived by either party; in other words, a parent who is ordered to pay child support must do so even if the receiving parent says that he or she does not have to. Payment of child support will provide for housing, food, clothing, health insurance, and other necessities for the children.
Calculating Child Support
An award of child support is primarily determined by the income of both spouses. Determining the income of a parent involves a variety of factors, including:
- Salaried wages
- Bonuses and commissions
- Overtime pay
- Disability benefits
- Social Security benefits
- Retirement benefits
- Investment accounts, such as stock dividends
- Worker's compensation settlements.
In some cases, certain payments can be deducted from a spouse's income, lowering the amount that is considered in child support calculations. Such deductions include:
- Income taxes
- Health insurance premiums
- Alimony, whether for the current marriage or previous marriages
- Child support paid for other children
While child support is mandatory in Florida, the amount of child support for which a parent is obligated to pay is not set in stone. In certain circumstances, a court can modify child support payments. Such circumstances include changes in income of either spouse or an increase in overnight stays for a parent.
What Happens When a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support?
As child support is mandatory in the state of Florida, there can be severe penalties for nonpayment of court-ordered child support. If a paying parent stops paying child support to a custodial parent, the custodial parent can bring an action for contempt against the non-paying parent. If the custodial parent can provide proof that the noncustodial parent has not been paying child support, the non-paying parent can be held in contempt and can be subject to several punishments, including:
- Withholding income from the parent's paycheck
- Seizure of bank accounts, where a court takes funds directly from the non-paying parent's account
- Withholding tax refunds
- Seizing assets such as real estate and vehicles
- Reporting to the non-paying parent's credit bureaus
- Suspending the non-paying parent's driver's license until a payment plan is entered into, and
- Incarceration in jail for up to one year.
Confused About Child Support? We Can Help
Whether you are in a position to receive child support following your divorce or whether you will need to pay child support to your spouse, the team of family law attorneys at the Koberlein Law Offices is standing by to help you through the divorce process and ensure that the terms of the child support awarded are fair to both parties. To schedule a consultation to speak with one of our attorneys about your divorce and learn more about child support, submit an online case evaluation form or call our office in either Lake City at 386-269-9802 or Live Oak at 386-516-2626 or Gainesville at 352-519-4357 today.