Many Florida parents are confused about how child support payments work. In this post, we’ll dispel the common myths and help you understand how the system is set up. When you have the right information, it’s a lot easier to make sound choices for your children – and yourself.
What People Think about Child Support Versus the Reality
I don’t have to pay child support if I don’t have a job.
The Florida courts mandate that both parents must financially support their children. If you lose your income, you must work with the courts to adjust your mandatory payment schedule. You are not lawfully permitted to work out different payment terms on your own, nor is it acceptable to suddenly stop making payments. Do so and legal action can be taken against you.
Failing to make payments will automatically send me to jail.
The only reason you would be held liable for lack of payments is if you are financially able to do so and simply refuse. In other words, if you have trouble paying because you lose your job, no one is going to immediately charge you with a crime. However, it is important to consult with your attorney as soon as your financial situation changes.
Failing to make payments will result in custody loss.
The courts will not revoke custody rights or parenting time due to lack of payments. However, action can be taken, and parents who fail to pay when they are financially able to do so can be held in contempt of court, placed in jail, or fined.
Filing bankruptcy will absolve me from child support payments.
Unlike other debts, child support payments are not erased in bankruptcy cases. Your back payments may be temporarily suspended, but paying child support is still required by law.
I don’t have to pay child support once my child turns 18.
While this is generally true, certain circumstances may require child support to be paid past the age of 18. For example, if a child turns 18 while still in high school, the payment may be required until the child graduates. Other exceptions include a child with special needs who cannot financially support himself or herself.
Back payments aren’t due once my child turns 18.
Even when your child ages out of the child support payment threshold, back payments are still due. Failing to make these payments only prolongs your obligation.
I don’t have to pay taxes on child support payments.
Child support payments are not deductible from the paying parent’s income. They also cannot be counted as earned income by the receiving parent. Your accountant or a tax professional will have more details for tax reporting.
Child support payments are based on my child’s needs.
Your attorney will understand what factors affect the assignment of support amounts in your unique case. The Florida courts typically use a formula that considers parent income and expenses, daycare costs, and other mandatory payments.
Child support payments can only be spent on items directly related to the children.
Payments cover more than simply food, clothing, and daycare for your children. They can also be used for indirect expenses such as housing, utilities, and health insurance.
Getting Legal Help with Child Support Can Save Loads of Trouble Down the Line
Negotiating child support payments can be a complicated process. It’s important to consult with a trustworthy Florida family attorney immediately if your payments or income sources change. Whether you have the obligation to make payments or receive them, we are here to help you. Schedule a consultation today and we’ll help you understand the legal details of your unique situation.