Child Support Enforcement in Florida: Ensuring Equitable Payments
Courts generally award child support to custodial parents when divorced couples or unmarried parents have a child between them. These awards strive to be equitable and are determined based on the best interests of the child.
Unfortunately, some parents fail to pay the other parent the determined amount for one reason or another. When this happens, Florida courts intervene to enforce the child support order and collect funds in potentially several methods.
How Is Child Support Calculated
The Florida Department of Revenue details how a court determines the amount one parent must pay to the other for child support, as well as what plans parents agree to it will accept. The guidelines take into account:
- Income of both parents (including seasonal variations if applicable)
- Health care or child care costs
- Age of the child (older children usually have more expenses)
- Educational expenses
- Any other support necessary that is in the best interests of the child
Obviously each child has different needs, so courts determine child support amounts on a case by case basis, but these general guidelines provide an overview as to how courts make their determination.
Enforcement of Child Support
Parents sometimes do not pay child support even though a court has ordered them to do so. When this happens the custodial parent may not have enough money to provide a child with proper food, clothing, health care or other necessities. Therefore, not paying child support can drastically affect a child’s growth which necessitates implementing means of obtaining the money non-voluntarily. Such methods include:
- Liens: If a parent does not pay child support a lien can be placed on their property. If non-payment continues then this property can be sold to cover past-due amounts.
- Garnishments: Courts can order an employer to withhold earnings for child support or garnish funds from bank accounts.
- License Suspension: A non-paying parent could have their drivers’ license suspended until their payments are current.
- Tax Refunds: A person’s IRS tax refund could be diverted to cover late child support payments.
There are other tools court can employ, but these are the most common. Additionally, situations change and parents occasionally need to alter or update their child support plan. Courts generally allow modifications when a parent’s income increases or decreases, when a child emancipates, stops needing daycare or when their medical needs change.
Anyone having questions about child support or who is seeking to modify their existing plan should speak with an experienced family law attorney immediately to discuss their rights and potential options.