Most lawyers don’t charge flat fees for any family law case. Our Tampa child support office charges flat fees for many child support cases, including filing a motion to modify child support, filing motions for contempt and defending fathers against child support enforcement (which is represented by the Department of Revenue and the Attorney General’s Office). The petitioner/mother, who is the party seeking child support, receives a court appointed attorney, so you should hire an experienced child support attorney to fight for your rights. Child support can be reviewed by the child support enforcement every 3 years, and you can modify your child support obligation by showing a substantial change in circumstances, which can occur if your income varies more than 5% of what it was at the time of the original order.
It isn’t infrequent that the Party seeking child support isn’t actually seeking it on her own, but the state of Florida is seeking it on her behalf. If a party who is not receiving child support is receiving any type of state aid (even if she’s doing so under false pretenses, which is often the case), the state seeks child support on her behalf and you need an experienced child support attorney on your side to represent you and show the court that while the other party may be receiving state aid, she may be doing so under false pretenses.
As an example, I’ve handled many times when the party receiving state aid (the mother) claims the child lives with her when the child actually doesn’t, just to get more food stamps or other money from the government. In fact, the party being represented for child support may make that claim even when the child lives with the other parent just to receive additional state aid! Regardless, child support enforcement automatically assumes that the child lives with the mother most of the time and does not give a credit to the father that would normally be received based on the number of overnights the father has with the child.
The court can also establish an arrearage of child support which can be in the thousands of dollars, and this can be based on fraudulent testimony or fraudulent activity as described above. This would increase a father’s child support obligation because he would be required to pay toward that arrearage at the rate of 20% per month. If child support becomes delinquent, tax returns can be confiscated, driver’s licenses can be suspended so my office often files a Motion to correct arrearages based on fraudulent activity of the mother (in the event that she’s claiming state aid under false pretenses); the state isn’t giving proper credit to the father for his child support payments and other situations, or the father needs a driver’s license to be able to work.
If your income decreases, it’s important to modify your child support obligation, otherwise your child support amount will continue as previously established.
It’s important to note that child support enforcement only establishes child support–it does not establish paternal rights or visitation/time-sharing schedules. Those situations are left for the family law court to decide.