The state of Florida takes child welfare extremely seriously. In order to ensure that Florida’s children are kept safe and healthy, the state enforces a rigid set of laws pertaining to children’s wellbeing, including child support laws. Given their importance, Florida’s child support laws need to be as thorough as possible, but unfortunately this also means that they come with a whole lot of information to sort through.
Although child support law in Florida can be complicated, there are a few basic rules that can help you if you are trying to determine how the law works and what your custody payments should be.
Florida Child Support Payments: The Basics
If you are required to pay child support in Florida, one of your first steps will be to fill out a number of forms. These forms contain step-by-step instructions for determining payment amounts, but they can be overwhelming. So in order to help you understand what exactly is going on in those forms, here is a breakdown of what you need to know.
First of all, support payments can be made one of three ways:
- Twice per month
- Every two weeks
- Every week
The amounts of child support payments depend on a variety of factors, including:
- The income of both parents
- The number of children involved
- How custody is divided between the parents
The documents that are supplied by the Florida court contain information that tells you exactly how much money you will have to pay based on your combined income (that is, the income of both parents) and the number of children involved. For instance, for parents with a combined income of $800 per month who have one child, the parents’ monthly payment would be $190. If that same set of parents had six children, their total monthly payment would be $220. For parents who have a combined monthly income of $10,000 and have one child, their total monthly child support payment would be $1,437. If those parents had six children, their payment would $3,666.
If this sounds complicated—don’t worry! The Florida courts provide plenty of additional information, and an experienced family lawyer will be able to provide additional support.
Once you know the total support payments you will both have to make, you will be asked to fill in forms with the following information:
- The total income of the mother and father separately, as well as the combined income of both parents
- The number of children who will receive child support
- Percentage of financial responsibility of both parents (determined by dividing the total income of both parents by each parent’s individual income)
- Share of basic monthly obligation (determined by multiplying the number of children by each parent’s percentage of financial responsibility
After that, further information will be needed to determine amounts that are due for additional support, such as health insurance and childcare. This part of the process requires additional information, but again the court forms will walk you through the entire thing.
Failure to Pay Child Support
Due to the value that the state places on children’s wellbeing, Florida is not afraid to slap delinquent parents with consequences such as fines or even jail time. The failure to pay child support is a serious offense and can have devastating legal effects on parents.
If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to make the child support payments that you have been ordered to pay—or if you simply need some guidance to help you understand the ever-changing child support laws—a qualified legal representative may be able to help. For any questions at all regarding child support, the Florida Family Law Clinic is here to help. Contact us today.