Sarasota Child Support Lawyers

According to the State of Florida, every child is entitled to a healthy life in which all of their basic needs are fully met. Divorcing spouses or separating partners that have children together must enact a child support plan to fulfill all financial needs of any involved children. Through the payment of child support, a Florida court of law ensures that the child has everything that he or she needs to adequately develop and succeed in life. If you are dealing with a child support case or would like to discuss options for modifying or enforcing an existing support order, contact a child support attorney in Sarasota, FL, at Tobaygo law. Our family law firm has extensive experience in child support cases which involve support determination, petition for modification, enforcement and determination of support, supplemental petition for modification of support, enforcing support and ending support upon the child's emancipation.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is comprised of court-mandated payments from one parent or custodian to another parent or custodian for the purpose of ensuring the fulfillment of financial support for a child or multiple children. The payments are intended to cover a wide range of child-related needs, which include but are not limited to housing, clothing, food, education, and health insurance. Child-related expenses may also include daycare and extra-curricular activities. A Sarasota divorce lawyer provides comprehensive counsel to help parents determine a child support arrangement that best accommodates the child’s requirements, with consideration to the financial circumstances of both the custodial and noncustodial parents.

How Is Child Support Determined In Florida?

During the process of determining and calculating child support, the courts consider varying sources of income within a household, the earnings that each spouse makes, and the manner in which such funds are spent. The courts also consider any deductions and exclusions, such as taxes, mandatory union dues, retirement payments, as well as the following factors.

  • Workers' compensation
  • Unemployment
  • Social security benefits
  • Spousal support
  • Salary or wages
  • Bonuses
  • Business income
  • Disability benefits

Florida law provides guidelines with which the courts determine the monetary amount of support to be paid. Once these guidelines have been applied to a case, a judge will determine how the funds will be distributed in order to provide the child with financial security and stability. Amounts of child support may vary based on specific financial circumstances.

Is Child Support Modifiable?

In certain cases of material changes to circumstances, such as changes in income, parents may petition to modify the agreement for child support. Our child support lawyers can assist parents seeking to modify child support with file petitions and advocating on their behalf to prove why the modification is required. Additionally, our attorneys assist with any child support issue that may affect a parent's rights, including the following circumstances.

  • Calculation of income for self-employed spouses
  • Treatment of seasonal income or bonus pay
  • High costs due to a child's illness, disability or physical impairment
  • High-income parent child support issues
  • Child support deviations
  • Imputing income to voluntarily unemployed parties

How Does Child Custody Affect Child Support?

When child custody and visitation arrangements are established by Florida courts, they are often accompanied by child support orders. If a parent or guardian is awarded sole physical or legal custody, the noncustodial parent is typically required to provide support in the form of recurring payments to the custodial parent. However, if joint custody is awarded to parents, support obligations are determined based upon each parent’s financial earnings as well as the amount of time in which the child spends with each parent, among other factors.

What Happens If I Can't Pay Child Support?

When filing for an annulment or divorce, one of the two parents will likely be required to pay child support. Once assigned by a court of law, parents are legally obligated to make timely and consistent payments. Should parents fail to submit appropriate child support payments as deemed by the child support order, there may be significant legal consequences. The noncustodial parent may be required to pay excessive fines or even serve jail time. No matter what the unique family circumstance may be, it’s important that you contact an experienced Sarasota child support lawyer to ensure the protection of your rights.

How Does The Department Of Revenue Pertain To Child Support?

If a noncustodial parent is failing to fulfill child support order obligations, the Department of Revenue (DOR) will assist by enforcing the child support order. The DOR initiates the enforcement by contacting the obligor (the parent ordered to pay child support) and attempting to obtain payment of the amounts owed to the obligee (the parent awaiting payment). Alternatively, if initial attempts to garnish the child support payment(s) are not successful, the DOR holds legal ability to take much more aggressive action.

Title IV Cases

Title IV pertains to the varying types of Florida child support cases. Each particular case will be categorized into one of the below case-types. Title IV cases include:

  • Title IV-D: the obligee requires assistance from the DOR in locating the obligor, establishing paternity and/or enforcing a child support order.
  • Title IV-A: the custodial parent receives public assistance and benefits from the state of Florida. Therefore, the state seeks to collect support directly from the non-custodial parent.
  • Title IV-E: in this case-type, the child(ren) are under the care of a relative or the foster care system. The DOR enforces and collects support orders that may be entered against the biological parents.
  • Non-Title IV-D: the obligee is receiving direct support from the obligor without assistance from the DOR.

How Does The Department Of Revenue Enforce An Out-Of-State Child Support Order?

A Title IV-D case requires the cooperation of states in the event that the obligor has moved across state lines from the state or county in which the child support order was initiated. Once the location and/or residence of the noncustodial parents is verified, the DOR works directly with the relative state or county to contact the obligor and enforce the child support order.

In the event that the child support order was initiated in a state other than Florida, the obligee has the option to register the child support order in Florida to obtain DOR assistance. Note that before the support order can be registered, a hearing will be conducted in a Florida court which provides the obligor with the opportunity to oppose registration of the child support order.

How Does The Department Of Revenue Collect Child Support?

The DOR begins enforcement with normal measures in an attempt to coerce the obligor into paying owed support to the obligee. If a notice informing the obligor of past-due child support amounts fails to yield results, the DOR will further intervene.

Typically, a Title IV-D order is accompanied by an order for the obligor’s employer to withhold income of the obligor. An income withholding order directs the employer to deduct the owed child support funds from the obligor's earnings for submittal to the DOR. Then, the DOR delivers payment to the obligee. Alternatively, if the obligor is self-employed or holds non-traditional employment, then the obligor is ordered to submit child support payments to the DOR. The DOR then delivers payment to the obligee.

If the above methods of enforcing payment are not fruitful, the DOR resorts to more extreme measures, such as the following:

  • Scheduling a meeting between the DOR and obligor
  • Suspending licenses, such as the obligor's driving, business, hunting or fishing license
  • Denying passport renewal
  • Intercept federal or state income tax refunds
  • Deducting payments from state benefits, such as Workers' Compensation
  • Garnishing bank accounts
  • Intercept Florida lottery winnings above $600
  • Placing a lien on any motor vehicle(s) and/or boat(s) that the obligor owns
  • Reporting the past-due payments on the obligor’s credit reports
  • Filing a lawsuit against the obligor

How Can A Family Law Attorney Help?

Our family law attorneys focus on the facts surrounding each individual child support case to best advocate and provide counsel for our clients. It is our dedication to ensure the protection of individual rights and have a full understanding of the child support case and any related proceedings. For legal counsel for a child support case, contact a child support lawyer.