Changes to Florida Child Support Laws Could Impact You and Your Family
Did you know that Florida child support laws changed in 2017? When you are dealing with the difficult issues surrounding divorce, child custody, and child support enforcement in Florida, it is important to not only have an experienced attorney but to have a general understanding of Florida child support laws.
The Case for Child Support
Divorce impacts the lives of the entire family. There is often great emotional and financial stress. People move, children many times have to change schools and make new friends, and parents try to do their best to make sure their kids are okay. Child support laws are on the books to make sure that children have the daily resources they need such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine, educational supplies, and more. Florida child support payments are critical to keeping them well-cared for after the divorce and throughout childhood.
After a divorce, it is the responsibility of both parents, residential or non-residential, to provide for the needs of any dependent children.
Who is in Charge of Child Support Enforcement in Florida?
Title IV-D of the Social Security Act passed by the federal legislature commands that each state in the country must have a government agency that enforces child support laws. The State of Florida has designated the Department of Revenue to administer the laws including the enforcement of a variety of court orders.
What Kind of Information Does the Law Require to Calculate Child Support Payments?
Hiring anexperienced divorce attorney is the best thing you can do to make sure your children receive the support they need after divorce. Professional legal help can lead you through the complicated judicial process. The law does require certain types of information to calculate child support payments. Overall guidelines are based on monthly amounts.
The type of information required by law to calculate Florida child support payments includes:
- Net Monthly Income
- Child Care Costs
- Child(ren)’s Healthcare Costs
- Child(ren)’s Noncovered Medical, Dental, and Prescription Costs
- Percentage of Overnight Stays with Each Parent
The amount of child support is based on the number of children and the combined income of the parents, and it is divided between the parents in direct proportion to their income or earning capacity.
The Florida Supreme Court provides an option for confidentiality with address and telephone information if you are the victim of sexual battery, aggravated child abuse, aggravated stalking, harassment, aggravated battery or domestic violence through a request for confidential filing (Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(h).
2017 Changes to Florida Child Support Law
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 590: Child Support and Parenting Time Plans into law on June 15, 2017. This law became effective January 1, 2018. SB 590 details a Standard Parenting Time Plan to be enforced by the Department of Revenue under the above-mentioned Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. The law also waives court costs for families in a Title IV-D case who cannot agree on a parenting plan and are asking the courts to establish a plan.
This law covers a brand new arena for Florida child support laws. Prior to the signing of this bill by the governor last year, the Department of Revenue did not have the authority to establish plans for parents that are paying child support to spend time with children.
The Standard Parenting Time Plan details include these options:
- One evening per week between 6-8 pm
- Every other weekend
- Half of winter break every year
- Thanksgiving break during even-numbered years
- Spring break during even-numbered years
- Two weeks every summer
A child support hearing officer will work with parents to establish that plan and base child support on the plan once an agreement is reached. The hearing officer has the ability to establish other parenting time plans that are agreed upon by the parents. This is often a critical juncture in the process where an attorney can help mediate an appropriate plan that is amenable to both parties.
What Happens to Visitation When an Ex is Delinquent in Child Support Payments?
The law addresses visitation and Florida child support payments separately. Children do not understand the complexities of the law and will often want to spend time with the other parent regardless of payment. It is important to keep communications open to not only follow court orders but also do what is best for the child/children involved. If there are no legal issues or abuse, non-custodial parents have the right to see their children.
It is possible that the delinquency is just temporary due to an unexpected layoff, work injury, etc. A request for partial payments and a little patience may be in order. But certainly, if it is an ongoing problem and the failure to pay has been going on for at least six months, it is important to look into the possibility of further legal action.
What if the Child’s Needs Change?
Occasionally, the needs of a child change and the amount of child support may need to be altered. Florida law qualifies this as a “substantial change in circumstances.” Has it become difficult to make ends meet with the current amount of child support? Modification is typically only justified under three types of circumstances:
- Change in Income — a significant increase or decrease in the custodial or noncustodial parent’s income
- Change in Parenting Time — a significant increase in time with noncustodial parent
- Change in Expenses — a change in health insurance premiums (child or parent), childcare costs, and alimony changes, etc.
The Next Steps
It is necessary for all parents to have an understanding of child support enforcement in Florida and the laws and processes involved in taking care of children after a divorce. It’s a stressful time, but having the information that you need will help. Experienced attorneys working with divorce, child custody, and child support are critical in the steps to resolving the numerous issues that surround this difficult time.
Dean G. Tsourakis has the experience and insight to help you navigate Florida Child Support laws. Contact our office today at 727-785-2700. The initial consultation is free.on Feb 12, 2018