How Can Family Law Clients Navigate Child Support Challenges in Central Florida?

In Family Law, Child Support is a vital aspect that ensures the well-being of minor children following a Divorce, Paternity Action, or Legal Separation. However, situations may arise where Family Law Clients fall behind on their Child Support obligations, leading to a range of consequences. Our Orlando Family Law Attorneys are dedicated to assisting Clients navigate outcomes of such circumstances. This blog will shed light on how our Team at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. can effectively handle these challenges, offer insight for co-parents who are managing Child Support responsibilities, and explore the role of the Court in related cases.

Are there consequences for co-parents who fall behind on Child Support?

Yes. When Family Law Clients are unable to meet their Child Support obligations, several consequences may arise. These consequences are designed to ensure that the minor children involved continue to receive the financial support they need.

Possible ramifications include:

Accumulated Debts: Unpaid Child Support payments can build up over time, creating a significant financial burden for the obligor. These amounts often accrue interest, further exacerbating the financial strain.

Legal Action: If payments continue to be missed, the other parent or the Department of Revenue can initiate legal action. This may involve wage garnishment, bank account charges, or property liens to recover the overdue payments.

Suspension of Licenses: Non-payment can lead to the suspension of various licenses, including driver’s licenses and professional licenses, until the obligor fulfills their payment obligations.

Contempt of Court: Persistent non-compliance with Child Support orders can result in the non-paying parent being held in contempt of Court. This could lead to fines, penalties, or even imprisonment.

How can a Family Law Attorney Guide Family Law Clients through Child Support Issues?

Encourage Open Communication: Attorneys should encourage open communication with their Family Law Clients. Understanding the reasons behind the payment challenges can help create suitable solutions.

Mediation and Modification: Attorneys may explore Mediation (as it is often required in the state of Florida) and, if warranted, seek Modifications to Child Support Orders based on significant changes in the obligor’s financial situation. Examples of such circumstances include loss of income, unemployment, etc.

Negotiation: Attorneys might be able to negotiate with the other party to reach an agreement that considers the best interests of the minor children while addressing the financial difficulties of the paying parent.

Our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys consider our Clients to be members of the Legal Team throughout the duration of their case. We know the law surrounding the circumstances and our Clients know the facts and personal circumstances contributing to the specific family law matter. It is important for Clients to do their part in order to successfully provide timely Child Support payments.

What are proactive steps Family Law Clients may consider to fulfill their Child Support obligations?

Budgeting: We encourage our Family Law Clients to create a detailed budget to allocate funds for Child Support. Prioritizing these payments may help ensure the financial well-being of the minor children.

Open Dialogue: If it is appropriate and safe, consider maintaining open and respectful communication with the other parent. Should financial challenges arise, discuss potential solutions, or seek a Modification through legal channels.

Document Changes: When or if your financial circumstances change significantly, gather documentation as evidence to support a Modification request.

Does the Court play a role in Child Support matters?

Yes. In Central Florida, as in other jurisdictions, the Court may play a pivotal role in Child Support cases. A Judge may initiate a Child Support Order as part of Divorce proceedings or when requested by a parent. The Order outlines the financial responsibilities of each parent and ensures the needs of the minor child are met.

Remember, when Family Law Clients fall behind on Child Support, it can lead to various consequences. Our Family Law Attorneys are here to help. Outside of Court, our Team of Legal Professionals plays a crucial role in navigating these challenges by fostering open communication with our Clients, exploring Mediation and Modification options, and advocating on behalf of our clients, with the best interest of minor children in mind. Ultimately, the Judge stands ready to intervene, if necessary, but we at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. are dedicated to resolving issues outside of Court, if possible.

To speak with one of our Family Law Attorneys regarding Child Support or other Family Law concerns, contact us at (407) 872-3161 to schedule a consultation.

Photo Credit: Alexander Mils via Unsplash.

Co-parenting and Child Support: Knowing Your Rights

Being a single parent wasn’t part of the future you envisioned for yourself or for your marriage. Regardless of your differences or imperfections as a couple, both you and your former spouse have an opportunity to be present and positive influences as parents. Outside of situations where emotional or physical harm to the children are at risk, each parent should be able to maintain, or build (depending on the child’s age) a relationship with his or her kids.

When you are embarking on the divorce process, it is easy to become overwhelmed with dividing assets, determining potential alimony payments, selling the marital home, etc. Your children, however, should remain a top priority as well. As co-parents, you and your former spouse will be connected through your children for years to come.

Perhaps you are concerned with what the outcome of your divorce will mean for your new family dynamic. Our Orlando Divorce Attorneys are available to answer questions that are specific to your case. Legal Teams at the Marks Law Firm have served as guides to our clients who choose not to navigate their family law matters alone.

In addition to each parent’s income, different factors such as children with special needs, behavioral issues, mental health struggles, etc. will all play a role in the amount of child support awarded. Although your previous attempts to receive child support payments on your own may have been unsuccessful, consulting with an attorney may help you better understand your rights and evaluate your options.

To speak with one of our experienced attorneys, schedule a consultation.

Does Child Support Automatically End When a Child Turns 18 Years of Age?

Answer: It depends.

Section 743.07(2) Florida Statutes, states:

“This section shall not prohibit any court of competent jurisdiction from requiring support for a dependent person beyond the age of 18 years when such dependency is because of a mental or physical incapacity which began prior to such person reaching majority or if the person is dependent in fact, is between the ages of 18 and 19, and is still in high school, performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19.”

 Additionally, § 61.13 Florida Statutes, states:

1. All child support orders and income deduction orders entered on or after October 1, 2010, must provide:

a. For child support to terminate on a child’s 18th birthday unless the court finds or previously found that s. 743.07(2) applies, or is otherwise agreed to by the parties;

b. A schedule, based on the record existing at the time of the order, stating the amount of the monthly child support obligation for all the minor children at the time of the order and the amount of child support that will be owed for any remaining children after one or more of the children are no longer entitled to receive child support; and

c. The month, day, and year that the reduction or termination of child support becomes effective.

However, many support orders entered prior to October 1, 2010, provide for a “lump sum” of child support for multiple children.  For example, if a support order only states that the obligor parent must pay $1,200.00 per month in support for the parties’ three (3) minor children, this order provides for a lump sum of child support.  As such, the obligor parent would have the affirmative duty to seek a reduction as each child reaches majority.

Furthermore, even when a child support order allocates the amount of support per child but does not have a specified termination date, the trial court can retroactively terminate child support based on the emancipation of a child prior to the date such relief is requested.  Thus, while the obligor parent must still request the court modify the child support amount, the court has the authority to do so retroactive to the date the child reached majority.  As a result, the obligor parent may be able to receive a credit for “overpayment” of child support.