Child Support in Florida

Last Updated on December 21, 2022 by Meghan

Parents have a duty to care for and provide for the basic needs of their child. In a family, this burden is shared by both parents through informal arrangements. However, in the case of a divorce, or unmarried parents, it is usually necessary to determine just how much financial support each parent is obliged to undertake for the child’s welfare. The parent with custody of the children would normally be entitled to some regular payments from the non-custodial parent, in the form of pre-calculated child support. This article will give information about child support in Florida.


Child Support Process After Divorce

In order to get child support from the other parent, the custodial parent must first file a ‘Petition for Support’. In this petition, the name, address, and other details of both parents are specified. This information will help the state locate the other parent so that they can be served with a notice. If the paternity of the child is disputed, the court will order DNA testing. This is a highly accurate means of determining the actual parentage of the child.

After confirming the paternity of the child, the case is brought to a judge who will decide on an amount to be paid, as deemed reasonable by the court. To arrive at the final figures for a child support obligation, the court has guidelines that consider several factors like the net income of the parents, the number of children involved, the needs of the child or children, the time spent with each parent (in cases of shared custody), etc. The amount to be paid should not be more than what the parent can afford.

For families that have no dispute as to the paternity of the child, the parents can agree on an amount to be paid monthly. This agreement can be brought before the court for a judge to approve. Once the final amount to be paid is decided, it is signed as a court order which the other parent must adhere to.

For additional details, visit https://www.floridalegaladvice.com/blog/child-support/#accordion-11

How Do You Receive Child Support

Parents receiving child support can do so through direct deposit or a state-issued smiONE Visa prepaid card. Using the direct deposit option, the funds are paid into the account of the custodial parent. Parents who do not have an account or who do not wish to link their accounts to the child support case can instead opt to get their payments via a prepaid card. The smiONE Visa card is a special debit card that has the child support payments loaded onto it. It can then be used to make purchases or card withdrawals at any location that accepts a Visa card. The state of Florida does not send paper checks in the mail, so parents would have to select one of the two listed options. For more details on the methods of receiving child support payments, visit https://floridarevenue.com/childsupport/pages/payment.aspx and the smiONE website https://www.smionecard.com/.

Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support

Child support in Florida is calculated using an income shares model. This calculation ensures that payments allocated to the parent are within the range of what they can afford. Calculating child support in Florida, the court considers both parents’ incomes, the number of children and their ages, etc. The court will also order a payment that will allow the children to get a similar standard of living to what they would have enjoyed if the parents were together. Using the calculation model, there is no actual maximum amount of child support. The higher the income of the non-custodial parent, the higher the child support to be paid. A sample child support calculator can be accessed at https://www.alllaw.com/calculators/childsupport/florida. The court-ordered support may vary from the figures obtained here, however. This is because the court may make discretionary concessions for either parent.

Child support payments are made until the child turns 18 years or, if the child is still in high school at the age of 18 until the child turns 19. The custodial parent may file separately to extend the child support payments if, for some special reason, the child would still be dependent beyond the age of 19.

Enforcement of Child Support

If the parent ordered to pay child support violates the order and refuses to make payments, the parent entitled to receive support can file a motion for civil contempt. Once it is proven that the non-custodial parent had the ability to pay child support but refused to comply, the judge will hold the parent in contempt and issue an order stipulating details on how the outstanding support should be paid. Fines may also be imposed, as well as jail time.

To enforce the collection of child support payments, the court can: withhold income from the parent’s wages, intercept lottery winning, place liens on property and vehicles, intercept tax refunds, take money from the parent’s bank accounts, etc. The defaulting parent may also be ordered to pay the attorney’s fees of the custodial parent. Parents who owe more than $2500 will have their passports revoked and subsequent passport applications denied until they have settled their arrears. For further information on the enforcement of child support orders in Florida, visit https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/child-support-enforcement-florida.html.

The Enforcement Unit of the Child Support Program takes different actions to ensure that parents meet up with their child support obligations. Some of the actions that may be taken against defaulting parents are:

  • Income deductions in which the money is obtained from the parent’s paycheck directly,
  • Freezing bank accounts of the defaulting parent,
  • Placing liens on vehicles and real estate of the parent,
  • Intercepting lottery winnings greater than $600, as well as tax refunds
  • Suspension of various licenses owned by the noncustodial parent. E.g., driver’s license, fishing license, professional licenses, etc.
  • Making credit reports to appropriate agencies,
  • Denial of passport applications and suspension of passports (if the amount owed is more than $2500)
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