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Child Support

Orange Park Child Support Lawyer

Child Support Representation in Clay County

Irrespective of the marital status of a child's parents, both are responsible for the financial well-being of their minor children. If you're going through a divorce involving children, it is crucial to consult an experienced child support attorney in the vicinity of Orange Park, FL. At Owenby Law, P.A., our proficient child support lawyers in Clay County are here to provide assistance.

What is Child Support?

Child support is a legal obligation that one parent has to financially support their child or children after a separation or divorce. It is meant to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial well-being of their child, even if they no longer live together. Child support typically covers expenses such as housing, food, clothing, education, healthcare, and other basic needs of the child.

Who is Responsible for Child Support in Florida?

When one parent has significantly more custodial time with the child or bears the majority of the child's expenses, the other parent is generally obligated to pay child support as per the law.

Often, parents can come to an agreement that fairly distributes the financial responsibility of raising the child. However, there are situations where the offered child support is inadequate or circumstances change, necessitating a modification of the existing agreement.

If you or your spouse serve in the military, the circumstances may differ from what is outlined here. Nevertheless, the attorneys at Owenby Law, P.A. have experience handling cases involving military divorce.

In such cases, a child support attorney in Orange Park can be of assistance. Contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation!

How is Child Support Calculated in Florida?

Florida uses an income shares model to calculate child support. This means that both parents' incomes are considered when determining the amount of child support owed. The Florida Child Support Guidelines provide a formula to calculate child support based on the combined income of both parents and the number of children.

In Florida, child support calculations are based on:

  • The amount of time the child spends with each parent.
  • The total monthly incomes of both parents.
  • The total monthly expenses of both parents.
  • The child's standard needs, such as food and clothing.
  • Daycare costs (extended day or childcare).
  • Healthcare and educational expenses of the child.
  • Any outstanding child support owed by one parent.

Income includes not only wages and salaries but also bonuses, commissions, dividends, pensions, and other sources of income. Income may also include imputed income if the court believes that a parent is intentionally underemployed or unemployed to avoid child support obligations.

Calculating child support can be complex. Nonetheless, a knowledgeable attorney can determine the legal requirements by examining the financial records of both parties. If the other parent is uncooperative, the courts can subpoena the necessary records.

How is Child Support Enforced?

In Florida, child support enforcement is taken seriously to ensure that children receive the financial support they need. The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) is primarily responsible for enforcing child support orders in the state.

Here's how child support enforcement works in FL:

  • Income Withholding: One of the most common methods of child support enforcement is income withholding. This involves deducting child support payments directly from the paying parent's paycheck. Employers are required to comply with income withholding orders issued by the court or DOR.
  • Driver's License Suspension: If a parent falls behind on child support payments, their driver's license can be suspended. This serves as a significant incentive for parents to stay current on their child support obligations.
  • Interception of Tax Refunds: If a parent owes past-due child support, the state can intercept their state and federal tax refunds to satisfy the debt.
  • Credit Reporting: Florida law allows past-due child support to be reported to credit bureaus, which can negatively impact the delinquent parent's credit score.
  • Passport Denial: Parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support arrears may have their passport applications denied or their existing passports revoked.
  • Property Liens: If a parent owes significant child support arrears, the state may place a lien on their property, including real estate and vehicles, to collect the debt.
  • Contempt of Court: If a parent willfully refuses to comply with a child support order, they can be held in contempt of court, which may result in fines, community service, or even jail time.
  • Seizure of Assets: In extreme cases, the state may seize assets such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, or personal property to satisfy child support arrears.
  • Legal Actions: The Florida Department of Revenue has the authority to take legal action against parents who fail to pay child support, including filing petitions for enforcement and contempt with the court.

Can I Withhold Child Custody If the Other Parent Withholds Child Support?

No, retaliating by withholding child support in exchange for withholding child custody is not legally permissible nor advisable. Child support and child custody are separate legal issues, and custody decisions should not be influenced by financial matters such as child support payments.

Both parents have legal rights and responsibilities regarding their children, including the right to spend time with them and contribute financially to their upbringing. Withholding child custody as a form of retaliation for non-payment of child support can have serious legal consequences.

In situations where there are concerns about child support payments or custody arrangements, parents need to address these issues through proper legal channels. This may involve seeking assistance from family law attorneys, mediation services, or the court system to establish or modify child support and custody arrangements fairly and lawfully.

Can Child Support Payments be Modified?

Sometimes, the circumstances of one or both parents change, requiring a modification of child support. The supporting parent may experience a loss of income or deteriorating health. The parent receiving child support may improve their circumstances and require less assistance. The child may now require specialized services like tutoring or orthodontic treatment. Even changes in shared parenting agreements can necessitate a recalibration of support.

Whether you are the supporting or receiving parent, Owenby Law, P.A. can assist you in filing a modification through the courts.

Child Support for Children Over 18

In Florida, child support is intended to financially support a dependent minor child. Typically, child support obligations cease when the child reaches the age of 18 (unless otherwise agreed) as they are no longer considered a child. However, there are exceptions where a parent may continue to receive child support payments despite the child attaining legal adulthood.

In Florida, a child over the age of 18 may still require financial support if:

  • The child is mentally incapacitated and requires additional support.
  • The child is physically incapacitated and requires additional support.
  • The child is still in high school but will graduate before turning 19.

According to Florida Statute 743.07(2), the parent of the dependent adult child is the appropriate party to request support for that child despite their legal adulthood when seeking a modification of child support obligations.

If you are considering a child support modification, the family lawyers in Orange Park at Owenby Law, P.A. are ready to assist you in finding an effective solution as promptly as possible.

Do you require legal representation for a child support case? Contact us immediately at (904) 263-5759 or reach out to us online to speak with an experienced child support lawyer near Orange Park, FL.


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