Florida Child Support Guidelines
Florida invites anyone in need of child support to open a case. You may apply for child support services if:
- You are the parent or caregiver of a child who needs or is owed child support.
- You are a parent who is owed unpaid support.
Opening A Child Support Case
To apply for services you can visit your local child support office or call and ask for an application to be mailed to you. After you sign up for services you may be asked for more information or to provide additional forms after your completed application is processed, which may include:
- Your current income information. This could include check stubs; W-2 forms; 1099 forms if self-employed and federal income tax returns for the past 3 years.
- A completed Financial Affidavit
- A completed Paternity Declaration
Your case will commence when the signed application and all the requested information is processed. This should take no longer than 21 calendar days. If there are any changes in your information, you should communicate this information promptly to your local office (i.e. any change in address or employment). Improper information may delay your case process.
Your local Florida office provides help with:
- Ensuring families receive the child support they need and deserve.
- Finding out who the legal father is
- Getting an order for child support
- Getting an order for medical support such as health insurance
- Finding a parent to get or enforce a support order
- Collecting and sending child support payments
- Enforcing medical and support orders
IF YOU ARE GETTING STATE ASSISTANCE, YOU ALREADY HAVE A CASE WITH FLORIDA:
All children deserve to know who their parents are. If the parents were not married when their child was born, the child could be missing important rights such as inheritance and medical history. Florida helps parents prove paternity. Both parents may sign a paternity acknowledgment, or genetic tests may be performed, and if necessary, a case may be taken before a judge.
Low Cost Health Insurance Available for Children
Health insurance should be available and affordable for all children. Children with health insurance are more likely to get the care they need to live happy and healthy lives. Whenever possible, the cost of insurance is included in child support orders. Low cost health insurance for children is available through Florida KidCare, call 1-888-540-5437
Paternity is legal fatherhood. If the mother is married when the child is born, her husband is the legal father of the child. If the mother is not married, the child does not have a legal father. Getting paternity gives the child a legal father. In Florida, Paternity can be established by:
Paternity Acknowledgment—both parents sign a paternity acknowledgment form in the hospital when the baby is born or later.
Administrative Paternity Order—After a genetic test scientifically proves who is the father of a child, a paternity order is issued. There is no need to go to court. There is no cost for the genetic test. The administrative order is based on genetic test results. The results are accurate and accepted by courts around the world. Genetic testing is always a part of the Administrative Order method. Sometimes a judge will order genetic testing in court. Regardless of the method, if the mother or the alleged father has any doubt about who the real father is, the genetic test will be recommended and/or ordered by the Judge. The administrative paternity order is just as legal as a judicial paternity order. An administrative paternity order may take 3 months or more depending on how quickly the parents respond to the notices and take the genetic test.
Judicial Paternity Order—The court looks at all the facts and issues a court order for paternity. The mother and the man she named as the father must appear at a court hearing. The court may order a genetic test. A judicial paternity order may take 6 months or more depending on the court hearing schedule and the parents’ response to the court actions.
Child Support Calculation Guidelines
Child support guidelines are standards used to figure out the support needed for a child and the amount a parent has to pay. Guidelines help make sure support amounts are fair and are based upon Florida law. These guidelines are used the first time child support is ordered and every time the child support amount changes. They are also used to review the order to see if the support amount should be changed. In Florida, your child support order amount is based on the income of both parents and the needs of the child. It specifies how much support should be paid, when it should be paid, who pays support and who receives support.
Child support guidelines consider:
- The income of both parents
- The child’s health care and child care costs
- The standard needs for the child.
A list of support amounts based on the child’s age and net income of the parents is in the Florida law – standard needs table. The court or agency establishing support must use these guidelines to decide the amount of child support that will go in a Florida support order. In special circumstances, support amounts can be higher or lower than the guideline amounts. You can also get an estimate of child support amounts by using the Florida Child Support Calculator. The calculator will take the information you put in and give you an estimate of your child’s support amount. This estimate is for informational purposes only.
Medical Support Can Be Included in Support Orders
Parents have a responsibility to support their children financially. Getting child support is important to your child’s well-being. A child support order sets the amount and type of support parents are required to provide for their children.
Benefits that may be included in a child support order:
- Amount of child support that must be paid
- Medical insurance plan
- Additional medical costs not covered by insurance
Modification of Support Orders
If you presently have a case with Florida, you can request that the support order be reviewed. You may qualify for a support order review if:
- Your current child support order will not end within 6 months from when your request was received.
- Your support order has not been changed or reviewed in the last 3 years,
- You can show a large change in your life. For example, an increase or decrease in income or a change in the child’s needs such as the child becomes disabled.
Other reasons to modify a support order include:
- Adding or removing a child from the order
- Extending the time support needs to be paid
- Adding or removing medical support from the order
Contact your local child support office if you think your support order needs to be changed. You may need to review and complete additional documents to begin the review of the order. When the review is complete, your case worker will notify you of the results. If the review results show that the support amount should be increased or decreased, they will take the next step to get the order changed. It generally takes about six months for an order review and change to be completed.
Enforcement of Child Support Orders
A child support order tells the parents what they must do to support their children and is a legal order that is based on the specific circumstances of the parties and it states the amount owed, the frequency (weekly, monthly), where to send payments, and other terms. Payment Information provides information about the many ways that parents can use to pay their child support. If payments are not made as ordered, Florida enforcement officials do not hear from you, steps are taken to enforce the order and collect the money that is owed. Enforcing child support orders means getting the parent to do what the order says. Some of the actions taken when child support payments are not made as ordered are:
- Late payment notices
- Income withholding
- Driver license suspension
- Suspension of business, professional, or recreational licenses
- Appointment Notice
- Federal income tax refund intercept
- Florida lottery winnings
- Reemployment Benefits
- Worker’s compensation
- Personal property liens
- Credit reporting
- Circuit Court
- Passport Denial
- Collect Medical Expenses Not Covered by Insurance
Locating Parents to Enforce Support Orders
Florida uses many sources of information to try to find where a parent lives or works including:
- Public Assistance and Food Stamp records
- Motor vehicle registration and driver license records
- Department of Corrections records
- United States Postal Service
- Current and previous employers
- Quarterly wage and reemployment assistance (formerly unemployment compensation) claims data
- Law enforcement agencies, parole and probation offices
- Utility companies
- Business, professional and recreational licenses
When the parent is located, your local Florida office can move forward with establishing or enforcing a child support order.
Enforcement of Orders from Another State
Whenever more than one state is involved in the establishing, enforcing or modifying a child or support order, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is implemented to determine the jurisdiction and power of the courts in the different states. This Federal Act also establishes which state’s law will be applied, an important factor as support laws vary greatly among the states. The local Florida office will need a copy of your Court Orders and the residential address of the other parent to determine jurisdiction.
Florida’s Granted Funds Projects
Florida’s offers grant awards to conduct projects that further the national child support mission and goals, and to assist families to become more independent.
Assets for Independence (AFI) Program
Florida partners with the Family Foundations and Northeast Florida Community Action Agency, to provide education and outreach services to the people served by AFI programs.
Miami-Dade Child Support & Parent Time-Sharing Plan Establishment Project
The Miami-Dade County project involves family court services and two family violence organizations. This program helps parents obtain court-approved parenting plans that include time-sharing for families also seeking child support order establishment.
FLORIDA RESOURCE LINE
Note: The foregoing information is provided as general child support law guidelines in the state of Florida and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case. After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to About The Children.
Submitted by Linda O’Marie, Paralegal