Child Support Lawyer in Stuart, Florida
Family law attorneys proudly representing the Treasure Coast
At Ohle & Ohle. P.A., we can help you with a wide range of child support issues, including calculating accurate support amounts and enforcing payments. Your Stuart child support attorney will work hard to ensure that your children receive financial support so that their standard of living does not change after your relationship with your spouse ends.
When paternity must be established
When parents are married, Florida law assumes that the husband is the child’s father. However, unmarried parents must establish paternity before child support can be enacted. In most cases, a voluntary acknowledgement of a paternity form signed by the mother and father will suffice. If one parent refuses to sign the form, the mother’s or father’s child support lawyer can proceed with a court order to establish paternity.
Guidelines for calculating child support in Florida
The State of Florida uses a strict formula based on several factors to calculate child support amounts. The gross income of each parent first must be determined, and then the costs of health care and child care are taken into consideration. The child’s standard needs, which are based on his or her age and the parents’ income, also are considered. The court additionally looks at the number of overnight visits for each parent. The state is fairly stringent in keeping with the formula, but special circumstances – like significant medical expenses – may warrant higher or lower support amounts. If a parent is self-employed, does not have a steady income or receives money from other sources, this also could complicate the calculations. In such cases, the judge will have to justify deviation from the formula in a written statement. The parents also are allowed to set support amounts that are higher or lower than the standard, as long as they both agree.
Establishing and enforcing financial support of children
Once child support guidelines are established, the parent who has the child support obligation is then legally obligated to pay the amount designated in the order. Those who fail to comply can be held in civil contempt, and the custodial parent can file a motion with the court to collect child support in various ways, including wage garnishment and liens on personal property.
Tough and experienced Stuart child support lawyers
Calculating child support is a complicated endeavor that should only be handled by the most skilled Palm City or Stuart child support attorney. In addition to helping you establish and enforce initial child support, Stuart family lawyer Leanne L. Ohle can help protect your interests and those of your children when one parent’s financial circumstances later change. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation.
Child Support FAQs
Which parent receives child support?
The time sharing arrangement between parents will determine which household qualifies for child support. Courts will deem the parent who cares for the children the majority of the time as eligible for financial assistance from the other parent. The majority time sharing parent is the custodial parent. However, parents who have equal time sharing may both be custodial. Even so, child support might still be payable by one parent to the other when they have equal custodial roles if a significant difference in income exists between the parents or one agrees to contribute money to the other household.
What expenses does child support pay for?
Child support is meant to subsidize the care of children in the custodial household by funding a share of the costs for food, housing, clothing, daycare, medical care or health insurance, education and a host of other needs. The funds may also apply to athletic fees, summer camp, extracurricular activities, private schooling or any other child-related expenses. The exact expenses vary among families based on income and a child’s interests and any special needs. The state’s child support guidelines govern the calculation of child support unless the parents decide upon other amounts.
What can I do if the custodial parent is misusing child support money?
Custodial parents have a great deal of leeway in how they spend the child support funds that they receive. In general, the money must be spent in a way that meets the needs of a child even if it is not spent directly on the child. However, a misuse of funds that leaves a child’s needs unmet could warrant legal action. The noncustodial parent paying the child support may petition a court to request an accounting of child support spending from the custodial parent. Confirmation that a parent is misusing child support exposes that person to prosecution for a first-degree misdemeanor on a first offense.
How can I collect child support from a parent who has defaulted on payments?
The state can draw upon many enforcement mechanisms when a parent stops paying child support. If efforts to motivate the parent to begin payments or catch up on missed payments fail, then the court system can take action to seize funds. This can occur through wage garnishment, placing a lien on property, seizing a tax refund, freezing a bank account, revocation of a professional license or suspension of a driver’s license. A person who will not comply with a child support order could ultimately face a contempt of court charge and jail.
Is it possible to reduce a child support payment?
A modification to a child support order is possible if the parent can show a substantial change in income or a change in the child’s expenses. A documented loss of income would alter the calculation of support according to the state’s formula. As long as the income loss would reduce the payment obligation by at least $50 or 15 percent, a parent may pursue modification. Changes in parenting time may also justify modifying a support order if the parent who pays begins to assume more childcare duties and overnight responsibilities. Reduced expenses for a child could serve as a legitimate reason as well. Although child-related expenses tend not to fall, a child who no longer needs daycare services may no longer need the portion of child support that was contributing to that expense.
How long do I have to pay child support?
Once your child turns 18, the obligation for support could end at that time. An 18-year-old who is still in high school will generally continue to receive support until graduation. In some cases, a minor may become emancipated. In that case, a parent may end child support. Entry into military service or marriage would also enable the cessation of support. Parents may elect, however, to continue a support arrangement for their children as young adults if they have agreed to share post-secondary educational costs.
When does child support end for a special needs child?
Children with special needs may not have the ability to become self-supporting adults. In this situation, a child support order could conceivably last for the special needs person’s life. Medical documentation of the child’s physical or mental disability needs to be provided to a court to prove the person’s ongoing financial need. This petition must be done prior to the child’s 18th birthday.
Do I pay the child support money directly to the custodial parent?
Direct payment of your child support to the custodial parent is acceptable. You do have the option of funding your monthly obligations through the court system. You can supply your employer with an income deduction order. Afterward, your employer will subtract the necessary amount from each paycheck and forward it to the applicable child support office. This entity would then transfer the money to the custodial parent. A self-employed person may choose to make payments through the child support office as well.
Are child support payments taxable as income?
No. A custodial parent does not have to declare child support as income. As a result, the amounts received do not impose any extra income tax obligations on the custodial parent. The money was already subject to taxation when the noncustodial parent earned it. Although the child support payment is an expense for the noncustodial parent’s monthly budget, that parent does not get to use child support payments as a tax deduction. The tax status of child support differs from the taxation rules applicable to alimony or spousal support.
Can I collect support retroactively for my child?
Sometimes long periods of time go by after parents separate before the custodial parent seeks financial support. The delay may arise from a noncustodial parent’s attempts to avoid responsibility or resist establishment of paternity. Pursuing retroactive support is possible when petitioning a court to order child support. When a court issues a child support order, it can determine what is owed going back to the date of separation. The income and expense guidelines to calculate child support would apply when figuring what is owed retroactively.