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Plantation Family Law Blog

What happens when a parent falls behind on child support?

When a court issues a child support order, it's important for the named parent to understand that this binding legal document does much more than just set forth terms covering the amount, duration and parties to whom payment should be remitted.  

Indeed, it subjects them to a multitude of possible enforcement actions that can be undertaken by the Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Program in the event they fail to make payments on time and/or pay the full amount owed.

Dedicated to helping parents facing the unthinkable

From chatting over a meal and playing in the park to reading a bedtime story or just staring at the clouds together, ask any parent and they will tell you that the best part of being a mother or father is the little things.

Indeed, most parents couldn't or wouldn’t ever imagine a scenario in which they would effectively be removed from the lives of their children. The unfortunate reality, however, is that circumstances can -- and do -- change such that you may find yourself facing the unthinkable: termination of your parental rights.

Understanding more about Florida's paternity laws - II

A few weeks back, our blog started discussing how Florida's paternity laws work. Specifically, we spent some time exploring each of the four ways in which legal paternity can be established here in the Sunshine State in an attempt to provide some much-needed clarity on what can be a difficult topic.

In today's post, we'll continue this discussion by exploring some of the benefits that come from establishing paternity for both children and their parents outside of the purely emotional considerations.

Even with equality, same-sex couples have unique family law needs

In January, same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Florida, but no one knew for sure if the law would remain in effect as an appeal before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta sat waiting for a decision to be made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Well, the Supreme Court handed down this long-awaited decision on Friday when it ruled that all people -- gay or straight -- have a fundamental right to marry. In other words, same-sex marriage will now become legal in all 50 states, and will remain legal in Florida. 

Understanding more about Florida's paternity laws

The law in Florida dictates that when a child is born to a married couple, the husband is automatically treated as the child's legal father. However, things are decidedly different if the mother is not married at the time of birth, as the child won't be viewed as having a legal father under state law.

In these situations, it will be necessary for the mother to establish legal paternity for the child, something that can be accomplished in one of four ways: acknowledgement of paternity, legitimation, court order and administrative paternity order.

How the state's child support oversight cost one parent thousands

The stated mission of the Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Program is "to help children get the financial support they need when it is not received from one or both parents."

In order to accomplish this admirable and wholly necessary objective, the Child Support Program helps residents establish and enforce child support orders, determine paternity and pursue the necessary modifications, to name only a few.

Boxer faces possible jail time for failure to pay Florida child support

Child support orders are based on a variety of factors, including the needs of the child and each parent's ability to support the child. In other words, a parent's child support obligation is based on the given circumstances at the time the order is made. If circumstances change -- such as an increase or decrease in either parent's income -- then a modification of child support may be in order.

What a paying parent should not do is simply ignore a child support obligation, even if a change in circumstances makes it obvious that the obligation can't be met. If a parent who is obliged to pay child support doesn't use the proper legal channels to modify the support order, then the parent could face serious legal consequences.

Study: Not everyone agrees with how child support is determined

Child support can be a hotly contested issue in a divorce. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that many disagree with the way child support is determined.

In Florida, the income of both parents -- the custodial and non-custodial -- is taken into account. In addition, amounts related to child care costs and medical expenses are taken into account. All of this is included in the child support formula, which is the guideline the courts use to determine how much a parent should be paying each month.

Don't wait to address divorce issues; get a separation agreement

Divorce is a rocky road, and often there is a significant span between the day the divorce is filed and the day the divorce is finalized. To get your divorced finalized in Florida, you have to meet certain requirements, which we discussed in a previous post.

Often this in-between phase is a time of great uncertainty, but taking action quickly in the form of a legal separation agreement can clarify your rights and obligations and those of your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Is child support tax deductible for the payer?

In family law and tax law, child support is prioritized over spousal support. That means in situations where the obligor parent (the paying parent) owes child support and alimony, the child support comes first.

For example, if a divorce agreement or court order specifies that an obligor parent should pay $400 in spousal support and $900 in child support, the $900 must be paid before any amount can be counted as spousal support for tax purposes. This is important to understand for payers and recipients of support because alimony and child support are treated differently by the IRS.

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