Child Support Attorneys in Jacksonville
The general rule for child support is that both parties share equally a duty to support their children, except in certain circumstances that may cast a greater burden on one or the other. Court ordered child support is based on the respective monetary requirements, and each parent’s ability to contribute to those requirements. Child support obligations usually last until the child reaches the age of 18, unless the child is physically or mentally dependent. Also child support is separate from and may be adjudicated before, after or during a dissolution of marriage proceeding.
The amount of child support is determined by the combined net incomes of each parent. Each parent must file an affidavit showing their respective “net” income (Income after tax withholdings). Using the total of these incomes the court finds that corresponding support amount from a statutorily proscribed chart known as “The Child Support Guidelines”. A support amount is then allocated between the parents according to their respective net incomes.
If a parent is unemployed or underemployed the court may impute, (assign responsibility for) a certain amount of income to a parent. If a parent fails to supply adequate financial information, income will be automatically imputed to the parent. However, Income may not be imputed at a level that a parent has never earned.
A court may depart from The Child Support Guidelines after considering all of the relevant factors. The court may order payment of child support that varies, plus or minus 5% from the original guideline amount. A variance of more is possible but requires written findings by the court.
If a parent has other child support obligations, subsequent children will not usually be considered by the court as a basis to disregard the guideline amounts. An increase in the number of children will not justify a decrease in child support.
Child support can be modified. The party seeking the modification, must show a substantial change in circumstances of financial ability. It should be noted here that the courts have no authority to cancel or reduce a past due installment of child support. For future support however, upon receipt of a patition to modify, a court will consider financial ability and the needs of the party or child, compliance with the guidelines, among other relevant factors and issue a decision and adjust amounts if applicable.
To initiate the modification, either party may file a supplemental petition in the circuit court. This is usually provided to the court that issued the original order for support. The petition must state the grounds for modification. Service of process is unnecessary if filed in the same court, however, notice is required to the other party.
Florida has a statewide registry for information relating to paternity and child support orders. All parties to the orders are responsible for maintaining current address and employment information with this registry. The court will order support payments to be made into a central depository unless the parties have no minor children, or the parties, agree otherwise. The central depository will transfer funds to the State Disbursement Unit for handling and disbursement to the parties.
If a party defaults on alimony or support payments, the circuit court can issue an IDO (Income Deficiency Order) to the defaulting party’s employer. Upon receipt of an IDO Order, the defaulting party’s employer must deduct the ordered sum from any money due and payable to the defaulting party and forward the funds to the central depository. Wages, including bonuses or other one-time payments, dividends, and retirement funds are all subject to an IDO.
Typically if there is litigation about child support, the issues will be held in front of a child support hearing officer who is appointed by the chief judge of each circuit. The hearing officers make recommendations to the court regarding child issues.
If a party defaults on their obligation to pay child support the non-paying parent may be held in contempt. The defaulting parent may be fined or jailed for willful contempt. Other orders available to the courts include ordering a job search, issuing a writ of garnishment, requiring an insurance bond, suspending a driver’s license or professional license, or intercepting tax refunds.
Let the experience of McGRATH GIBSON help you navigate the complicated areas of child support!
If you are facing a divorce or separation that involves children, let the family law attorneys at McGRATH GIBSON help you navigate the child support laws to assure that you and your children’s rights are protected. Call the lawyers of McGRATH GIBSON to schedule a consultation at (904) 358-3300. We look forward to helping you.
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The lawyers of McGRATH GIBSON are licensed to practice in the states of Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. Additionally, we represent the injured throughout the United States pro hoc vice, and with the help of local counsel. While we strive to personally handle all types of personal injury and wrongful death claims there are occasions where cases may be referred to another lawyer. We proudly offer representation to Military Veterans and the Men and Women who currently served our armed forces at the Mayport Naval Station, Naval Air Station of Jacksonville, Camp Blanding, United States Army, Army Reserve, United States Marines, Florida National Guard, Air National Guard, United States Coast Guard, Air Force, and Air Force Reserve. McGRATH GIBSON family law attorneys offer representation in the areas of Family Law, Divorce, Alimony, Child Custody and Child Support throughout Florida. Representation for Military Divorce handled throughout the United States and U.S. Territories independently or with local counsel where required.
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