Child Support Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
In the State of Florida, child support is governed by Section 61.30, Florida Statutes. Child support is a court-ordered obligation placed on a parent for the financial support of their minor child to provide care, maintenance, and education. Under Florida Law parents are not able to waive their child support obligations, however under certain circumstances a deviation in the child support amount, up or down, may be permitted. Florida recognizes that parents of a minor child have a legal and moral duty to support and maintain their children.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?
When determining the financial obligation of a parent, the courts use Florida's child support guidelines, located in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes. These guidelines specifically outline how much child support is required using several factors, including the parents' net income and the number of children involved in the matter. The amount and duration of child support payments will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case.
What if I Have Reason to Believe the Other Parent Is Hiding Income?
A parent's income or a parent's lack of income are some of the most important factors when determining how much child support a parent will have to pay. Unfortunately, many parent's will underreport their income to avoid or lower their child support obligation. In cases such as these, the imputation of income may be a useful tool. If a parent is hiding income, the court can impute a salary on that other parent. The court can also impute income if one parent is unemployed or underemployed. Family law courts must make specific factual findings based on evidence relating to the parent's current job market, the parent's employment history, and the prevailing salary in the local community to impute income against a parent.
The court will usually apply a two-part test for cases with alleged imputation of income. First, there must be a determination that the lack of employment or reduction in income was voluntary. Second, the court must determine if the loss of income resulted from the parent's pursuit of his or her own interest; or is the loss of income due to a less than diligent effort to obtain employment at an income level equal to what the parent could earn.
Can Child Support Payments be Modified?
If there has been an unanticipated unintentional permanent substantial change in circumstance, child support may be modified. The court will only be concerned with changes that occurred after the prior case was finalized. Issues that arose prior to the initial case will usually not be considered for modifications, because the law requires a unanticipated substantial change in circumstance that was not contemplated prior the completion of initial case. For instance, if a parent has encountered an increase or a decrease in their income after the completion of the initial child support determination, child support may be modified. Generally, there will need to be at least a 10% change in income to qualify as a substantial change in circumstance.
What if the Other Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support?
Florida has strict child support laws to ensure that a parent is paying their required amount of support. A parent may be able to seek assistance from Florida's Department of Revenue or a private child support law firm to assist in the collection of child support.
Under Florida's child support laws, a court is authorized to garnish wages as a method of enforcement in the collection of child support. An income deduction order will be sent to the obligor's employer, ordering that the child support payment be automatically deducted from the employee's paycheck. Federal Tax refunds may be garnished or intercepted as well to satisfy outstanding child support obligations. Additionally, failure to pay support can result in a driver's license suspensions or refusals for passport renewals.