Trusted Legal Guidance In Matters Of Child Support
Florida law requires child support for children of unmarried parents, separated parents and divorced parents. In cases of unmarried parents, a mother seeking child support must establish the father’s paternity through a DNA test. Once paternity is established, the father is obligated to provide the child with financial support.
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Florida statutes use each parent’s total net income to determine how much child support is owed. At Saunders Law Group in Bartow, Florida, our lawyers use a specialized software program that can provide you with a reasonably accurate estimate of what a parent may owe in child support.
The program takes each party’s gross income, including work and investments, and deducts federal income taxes, Social Security payments, Medicare taxes and other permitted deductions. This determines net income, which is then used to determine payments.
These calculations also account for which party provides the child with health insurance and daycare or after-school care. These expenses are factored into the child support payment so that even though one party may make these payments, the total cost is shared between both parties. Other factors taken into consideration include the amount of time each parent will spend with the child and whether the child has any special needs.
Is There A Connection Between Child Support And Parenting Plans?
Yes, there is some connection with respect to visitation rights. The parent who spends less time with the child typically owes more in child support. The total amount owed can fluctuate based on the actual time spent with the child.
A parent who desires visitation with his or her child must request that the court establish a “parenting plan.” This plan is a written document that is incorporated into the Final Judgment or the Order of the Court, and the plan establishes the times a parent can visit with the child. Child support obligations may also be reduced depending on the amount of time a parent spends with the child. This takes into account that a parent spending a significant amount of time with the child is providing the child with direct support, which includes housing, food and clothing, among other things.
Failure To Pay Child Support
In Florida, a failure to pay child support is not a viable reason to deny visitation rights. Even if child support payments are owed, the court will typically not deny visitation.
The court considers child support obligations and visitation rights to be separate issues. In other words, payments for child support can be ensured through specific means while allowing visitation to continue. If child support is not paid, the parent who should be receiving support can file a motion with the court to enforce payment of the moneys owed.
The court may garnish the other parent’s wages or IRS refunds, or force the sale of certain assets to ensure child support is paid. Under more extreme circumstances, the parent owing money may be placed in jail until the payments are made. Florida courts take unpaid child support seriously, as the obligation often falls onto taxpayers.