In Florida, any parent who resides the state may petition the Florida courts for child support, or request support during a divorce or paternity case. The amount of child support to be received is based on child support guidelines provided within the Florida statutes. These guidelines consider numerous factors in calculating child support, including:
- Number of children
- Combined net monthly income of the parents
- Cost of daycare
- Health insurance requirements for the child
- Number of nights each parent spends with the child based on the parenting plan
Where it is reasonably possible, a Florida court will require parents to provide medical and dental insurance for their children. Additionally, life insurance may be required in an amount commensurate to the amount of child support owed.
If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, Florida courts may choose to impute income to the parent based on recent work history and prevailing earning levels. They may decline to do so where it appears necessary for the parent to stay home with the child.
Parents can seek modification of a prior child support award when it is based on a showing of a substantial, permanent, and unanticipated change in circumstances. This can include:
- Loss of a job
- Termination of daycare or childcare
- Substantial increase or decrease in income (15% or greater)
A request for modification of child support should be filed with the court immediately if any of these circumstances arise. This is because modification is effective only from the date of filing onwards – it does not apply to child support owed prior to the filing. If you have had a recent significant change in circumstances that you believe merits modification of child support, you should contact an experienced Florida family law attorney immediately.
Enforcing A Child Support Award
When one parent fails to make required child support payments, there are several options available for enforcement of a child support award. A court may hold the parent in contempt, suspend the parent’s driver’s license, or place a lien on the parent’s property. The court may also empower the Florida Department of Revenue to take action by seizing the parent’s bank account.