Child Support Attorneys in Pensacola, Florida
Going through a divorce is a very challenging, emotional, and stressful experience. For parents who are parting ways, divorce can be even more trying, as not only will couples have to decide about the division of property, but also come to an agreement regarding child custody and child support.
Working with an experienced attorney during your divorce, particularly if you have children, is strongly recommended. At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A, we can help you get the outcome you desire, and guide you through everything you need to know regarding separation and your children, including your duty to pay or right to receive child support payments.
All Parents Have a Duty to Support Their Children
All parents in Florida have a duty to provide financial support to their children; this duty is non-negotiable, and once a child support order is issued by a Florida family court, a party has an obligation to abide by it, making payments in full and on time.
With that in mind, the courts determine which parent will be ordered to pay child support based on custody and a time-sharing agreement. While you should work with an attorney to determine precisely who will pay child support and how much, it is typically the non-custodial parent who will be ordered to make child support payments (when custody is shared, the number of overnight visits of each parent is taken into consideration).
Determining a Child Support Amount
The amount of child support that a noncustodial parent may be ordered to pay is based on a number of factors, including the income and earning abilities of each parent, healthcare and day care costs, the child’s standard of living, and any special or additional needs of the child. The standard amount that a parent will have to pay is based on Florida’s Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines consider the parents’ combined monthly income and the number of children, and then assign a parent a child support obligation based on this information and the percentage of income that they contribute to the combined amount.
For example, consider a situation in which parents have a combined monthly available income of $10,000, and have two children that require child support.
Based on the guidelines, two children of parents who make $10,000 are entitled to a combined $2,228 per month. However, this amount is split amongst parents, which each parent owing an amount that is proportional to their income. For example, if the custodial parent makes 60 percent, then the other parent is responsible for 40 percent of the $2,228, or $891.20 per month. It is assumed that the custodial parent is contributing to the financial needs of a child by having custody.
After considering the factors listed above, the court may deviate from the guidelines’ suggested amount by approximately five percent if they find it reasonable and necessary to do so.
Other Factors that Influence Child Support
The courts recognize that while the guidelines are a great baseline for determining how much a parent should pay in child support, and how much a child should receive based on parents’ income, all children’s needs and all financial situations are not the same. Indeed, the court may deviate from the guidelines based on things like:
- The child’s healthcare costs;
- Childcare costs;
- The needs of the child(ren), including any special needs;
- Standard of living; and
- The financial status and ability of each parent.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
As stated above, once a child support order has been issued by a court, it is non-negotiable; a party will be expected to make the child support payment on time and in full each month. If payments are not received on time or in full, the recipient parent may pursue child support order enforcement options. The Florida Department of Revenue houses the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program, which has the power to garnish the wages of the other parent when they have defaulted on payments, as well as take other actions to ensure payments are made. If you are unsure of what you should do if your child’s other parent is not making payments, you should contact the Department of Revenue, and consider hiring an attorney.
For How Long Does a Party Owe Child Support?
In most cases, a child support obligation will be terminated at the time of a child’s 18th birthday. If the child is still in high school when they are 18 years of age, the termination date may be extended to 19 years of age, or until the date of the child’s graduation from high school. In exceptional circumstances, this may be extended if the child has special needs. In some cases, child support may be terminated before the child reaches 18 years of age. For example, if a child marries before 18, a child support order will be terminated.
Modification of Child Support
While parents are indeed required to make child support payments once an order is issued by the court, modification of child support is possible; the court recognizes that parents’ situations can change dramatically over the years, and the exact same child support order may not be appropriate.
When circumstances warrant it, either party may seek modification of a child support order. If parents agree on the modification, it will likely be granted by the court without debate. If parties do not agree, going to court may be necessary.
Advantages of Working with a Florida Child Support Attorney
If you need to deal with child in your family law case, working with an experienced attorney is strongly recommended. We can help you get what you need, while helping you follow the state’s guidelines.
Contact Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A. Today
At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A., we know that child support laws can be confusing. Whether you are the custodial parent or a parent who will be potentially ordered to pay child support, we can offer you the legal support and guidance that you need. To schedule a consultation with our law offices, please visit us in person, send us a brief message using the intake form on our website, or call us at 1-888-219-4561 today.