Child support is a serious financial obligation and an important program in Florida and the rest of the country. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about one in four children in the nation is now receiving some kind of child support. Other data related to the program also shows that child support payments help successfully reduce child poverty.
How long do these obligations last?
A parent who is required to make child support payments in the state of Florida must continually do so until the child reaches 18 years of age or finishes high school if they are still enrolled on their 18th birthday. Thankfully, the legal profession has made attempts to standardize this process in recent years, in order to make the process simpler for families who want to spend less time in court and pay fewer legal fees. There are also ways to automatically withhold the required amounts from a parent’s income, which avoids problems related to miscalculations or late payments.
Child support is based on income
As a general rule, money obtained through support is supposed to be used for important things related to the child’s well being such as education, health care, daycare, and proper nourishment. The government’s interest in all family law cases is related to promoting the best interests of the child. This same standard is used in custody cases as well.
In the state of Florida, the courts will use a formula based on the income of the parents to determine a child support amount for the non-custodial parent. The government website for the Florida Courts provides a worksheet that can be used to determine what amount is appropriate based on the combined monthly income of the parents and each parent’s custody time.
Deviations from the amounts required by the guidelines
Judges can deviate from these guidelines, but there usually needs to be some kind of extreme circumstances that would warrant a finding that the standard amount must be increased or decreased. The parent requesting the modification must also complete the form for a Motion to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines.
The non-custodial parent should expect to pay the amount listed in the guidelines unless they believe they are in an abnormal situation. Courts will also have to make a specific finding and give written reasons for a deviation of more than 5% from the guidelines, which is a rare occurrence.
What happens if child support obligations are not being met?
The consequences for not paying child support on time and according to your schedule are serious. This can include a driver’s license suspension, additional fines and interest on back payments, or even jail time. Knowingly making false statements on any documentation related to child support can also result in perjury charges. If you are required to pay support but are having trouble meeting these financial obligations, it is best to contact an attorney who practices in this area as soon as possible before the consequences become serious.
Prepare for a child support case with the help of a local lawyer
There are child support attorneys available in Fort Walton Beach and nearby parts of Florida who help people with these issues every day. Contact ASG Legal for more information.