The child support system in Florida can be confusing. To make matters worse, it can involve a hefty amount of paperwork, court appearances, and obtuse legislation. All of this can make getting the support you need far more difficult than it should be.
So if you’re confused about the process, don’t worry. Here’s what you need to know, including what child support covers and the consequences for not paying it.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is money a parent can receive to help cover the cost of raising a child.
In Florida, child support is usually paid by the parent who does not have primary custody.
The amount that the non-custodial parent must pay is determined using a child support calculator and guidelines. This considers the parents’ income, the number of children that would be covered under child support, and any other relevant expenses and factors.
What Does Florida Child Support Cover?
The expenses needed to raise a child (and therefore be covered by child support) can include the following:
A child’s basic living expenses include food, clothing, and shelter. These expenses are the bare minimum that a child needs and form the basis of child support payments. However, this is usually not the extent of what a judge would order a parent to pay.
To ensure that the child receives a quality education, child support can also require the non-custodial parent to pay for tuition, books, school supplies, and fees required for extracurricular activities.
Parents can use child support to pay for childcare if the custodial parent requires it in order to go to work, college, or professional training.
Child support usually also covers any required medical expenses to care for the child and keep them healthy. This can include doctor’s visits, dental work, vision care, health insurance, medications, therapy, and specialized medical care.
Finally, to transport children to places like school or medical appointments, child support can also include various costs for transportation.
What Child Support Doesn’t Cover
Child support is not meant to be used for optional expenses, like vacations or luxury goods. Therefore, it’s important to remember that you can face severe consequences if you’re found to be using child support payments for expenses such as these instead of directly supporting the child’s required needs (like those listed above).
The Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support in Florida
Failing to pay child support can carry severe consequences.
In Florida, the following penalties may apply:
- Wage Garnishment: If you refuse to make child support payments, the court can order that a portion of your wages be withheld from your account and applied toward the owed child support
- Tax Refund Garnishment: Like wages, the state can intercept your tax refund and apply most or all of it to your owed child support
- Liens on Property: In a strategy commonly applied in cases of outstanding debts, a lien may be placed on your home or vehicle, preventing you from selling or refinancing it without first paying any owed child support
- License Suspension: In Florida, the court can suspend your driver’s license (and even any professional license you might carry) if you fail to pay child support — because this can prevent you from driving or working, this is an effective consequence that you don’t want to face
Finally, you should remember that failing to pay child support directly violates the court’s orders. As such, parents who fail to pay child support may be charged with being in contempt of court. This criminal misdemeanor can result in fees and even jail time.
Child Support Payments Foster Stability
Child support payments can help divorced or separated parents provide a positive environment for their children without worrying about having enough money. Keep these guidelines in mind when deciding how to spend your child support, and if you’re responsible for making these payments yourself, remember that your child’s future is at stake.
Contact the Orlando Family Law and Child Support Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803