Child Support Attorney Serving Tampa, Florida
Both parents in Florida are legally required to financially support their minor children until the children:
- reach 18 years of age (or no later than 19 years of age if the child is in high school with a reasonable expectation of graduating by the age of 19)
- get married
- joins the Armed Forces
- becomes emancipated
Child support is designed to provide the custodial parent with financial assistance to care for a minor child. Child support is not considered income to the recipient and cannot be waived by the custodial parent. The purpose of child support is to assist the custodial parent in providing:
Establishment of Child Support
Child support may be established in a divorce, paternity or any other family law case involving children.
If a child is born out of wedlock, the mother may seek child support by initiating a Paternity action.
Child support is determined by applying a formula, known as Florida’s Child Support Guidelines, taking into account:
- the parties’ monthly net income
- how many minor children the parties’ have in common
- any credits entitled to either part that pays child care and/or health insurance costs
- the number of overnight visits a parent has with the minor child(ren)
While this formula may appear straight forward, there is a legal definition for “income,” and you may be surprised as to what that definition encompasses.
It’s important to note that just because funds you receive are non-taxable doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not considered income for child support purposes.
Mindi Lasley, P.A. represents clients seeking child support, as well as those who are a party to a case in which child support is being sought.
Make sure that you receive the amount of child support that you are entitled to. Likewise, if your child’s other parent is seeking child support, make sure you don’t pay more than what is necessary and that all money paid counts toward your child support requirement.
Ensure you don’t have to go back to court every time a child emancipates and make sure the number of overnights with each parent is specified, as this is very important for child support purposes.
Contact the law office of Mindi Lasley, P.A. to schedule a consultation to find out your child support rights.
Deviating From Child Support Guidelines
While the judge has some discretion to deviate from the child support guidelines and require more or less child support to be paid, it’s difficult for a judge to order a “departure” from the guidelines by more than 5%. Florida law has numerous factors the judge may consider in determining whether a deviation from the child support guidelines is warranted.
Contact the law office of Mindi Lasley, P.A. to determine if you would be entitled to a departure from the child support guidelines.
Modification and Termination of Child Support
Child support can be modified by either party in the event that current guidelines differ from the previously established guidelines at least 15% or $50, whichever amount is greater. In order to modify child support, the proper petition must be filed with the court.
Florida only requires that child support be paid until the minor child reaches the age of 18. However, if the child is still in school at the age of 18, child support will continue until the child graduates from school, but no later than the child’s 19th birthday.
Child support can be terminated earlier in the event the child becomes emancipated, marries or joins the armed forces. Likewise, child support can continue past the child’s 19th birthday in the event the child becomes disabled.
Child support does not include college expenses or tuition. There is no law in Florida requiring parents to pay or contribute to their children’s college expenses.
If both parties agree to pay for college expenses in a settlement agreement, then that agreement can be enforced in the event that one of the parents fails to abide by it.
Child support doesn’t automatically terminate when the child turns 18 (or 19 if the child is still in school). Depending on the language used in the Order signed by the judge, you may have to petition the court to terminate the child support once the child is no longer a dependent.
Likewise, if you have two children, child support isn’t automatically decreased by one-half when the oldest child reaches the age of 18.
It’s important to contact an experienced Tampa child support attorney when one of these circumstances arises to ensure compliance with Florida law. Reducing the child support amount without properly petitioning the court could result in being found in contempt of court.
Child Support Enforcement
The Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Division, which is represented by the Attorney General’s Office, may bring a claim against a father in the event that the mother of the child has requested such assistance and/or the mother of the child(ren) has received or applied for state aid.
Cases brought forth by the Department of Revenue are heard in a separate division from the family law courts that address child support issues only.
Failure to pay court ordered child support can result in a Motion for Contempt being filed against you, and repercussions include, but are not limited to:
- suspension of your driver’s license
- garnishment of your wages
- garnishment of your tax refund
- confinement in the county jail
The non-custodial parent is responsible for the payment of child support upon the separation of the parties. If payment is not made, or is less than the amount the non-custodial parent is responsible for, retroactive child support may be ordered.
If court ordered child support becomes delinquent, you will accumulate a child support arrearage, which must be paid back with interest.
Tampa Child Support Lawyer
Lasley Family Law is dedicated to representing custodial parents to ensure they get the child support they are entitled to.
In addition, our firm represents non-custodial parents in family law cases and child support enforcement cases to ensure that our clients are not paying more than they are legally obligated to pay, and that they are given a credit for all funds they have paid towards child support in the past.
For more information contact Tampa Child Support Lawyer Mindi Lasley.