Child Support Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Child support payments are designed to ensure that a child has the financial support of both parents, even when both parents may not always be present due to custody arrangements. The parent with less custody time will essentially have to supplement the income of the parent with greater custody time to make this possible. This becomes a serious, long term financial commitment, and both parents should be aware of some of the state’s rules related to payments, administration, and changing payment amounts if necessary.
While an overview of child support law in Florida is helpful, specific advice from a Fort Lauderdale child support attorney at The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A. is recommended for anyone who has a pending case and needs a lawyer. The lawyer can give advice that is tailored to the client’s needs and their personal situation.
How a child support lawyer helps their clients
Fort Lauderdale child support attorneys can provide help to clients in a number of different ways. Most of these lawyers will have a general family law practice, which means that they can also handle issues related to custody, divorces, and alimony for the same client.
Any parent who has recently had changes in custody due to a divorce, paternity testing, domestic violence, or other issues may want to go to court and have the judge make an order to start to receive payments. If the custodial parent is having trouble receiving the payments from the other parent, or there are issues with lateness or missing money, the attorney can utilize the family courts to ensure that the child has access to all of the outstanding money. A lawyer who practices in this area can also help to petition the court for a support modification when certain conditions have been met. Child support lawyers in Fort Lauderdale can assist a parent who has any other issues with the administration of their payments, trouble in court, or the practicalities of receiving the money.
What determines child support amounts
Florida law essentially uses a formula to set a child support payment amount based on the parents’ incomes. This is a way of ensuring that the parent can afford the payment by not taking too much of their pay, but it is also set so that expenses such as healthcare, food, and education can be covered. For most couples, factors such as the combined income of both parents and the total number of children the couple has are important in deciding the actual amount that will be paid. When income is considered, this calculation will factor all sources of income even if parents have multiple jobs, business incomes, or they receive tips in addition to their wages. There are various calculators available online that will give an estimated support amount after some basic information is provided.
Despite these general rules, a judge is allowed to make a finding that there should be a deviation upward or downward from the standard support amount based on special circumstances and argument from a child support lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. These special circumstances may be due to a child with exceptional healthcare or educational needs, or other issues brought to the court’s attention by the parents. The judge is supposed to order an amount that will meet the best interests of the child and take their particular needs into account.
How to change a child support amount in Florida
State law in Florida will only allow a parent subject to a child support order to change their payments in a few limited situations. The changes must be formally made in court and approved by a judge, and the parent must continue to follow the prior order and make payments accordingly until this happens. The assistance of a Fort Lauderdale child support attorney is crucial during any hearing for a child support modification, as there is no guarantee that these modifications will be granted without sufficient evidence that they are necessary.
Before there can be a hearing to change child support, the parents need to file a petition with information about income and other important facts. There also will need to be findings by the judge related to some kind of substantial change such as a job loss, large changes in income, or a significant time duration since the prior order was put into place. The court will also allow modifications when the parent can prove some kind of permanent change in circumstances that will make the modification necessary. This can be due to something like a disability or sudden permanent health problems. In many petitions, the court will be more sympathetic to a parent who has experienced a serious and involuntary change that affects their ability to make payments in the prior amount rather than simply asking for a modification without a good reason.
The duration of child support in Florida
Anyone who is expected to make child support payments should generally plan to do so until the child reaches adulthood. Florida laws say that the payments will continue until the age of eighteen or when the child finishes high school. As a general rule the payments will not continue past the age of nineteen, however there are rare expectations when a child has some kind of special needs or disability where they may not be able to become employed or financially independent. There are also situations where support payments will end at the child’s eighteenth birthday if it is obvious that they will not graduate high school or are not actively enrolled.
Consequences for missed payments
Any parent who is having trouble making these payments should get help from a child support attorney in Fort Lauderdale immediately. The parent who is not making the payments on time can have their driver’s license or professional licenses suspended, they can have to make back payment plus interest, they can be held in contempt, their credit may be affected, and in serious cases it is even possible that the judge can sentence the non-paying parent to jail time. Most times, the payments are subtracted automatically through the state’s system after an order is in place to avoid late or missed payments.
Meeting with a child support lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
There are attorneys who focus their practice on helping people with child support issues such as getting an initial order in place or modifying existing payments. The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A. is a trusted local family practice in Florida.