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A Guide to Child Support in Florida

Did you know the average cost of raising a child for 18 years if more than $230,000? While the cost is worth it to most people, that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, especially if one parent isn’t pulling his or her fair share of the financial weight. Do you need help getting your co-parent to pay for food, clothing, medical bills, and other necessities for your child? A child support order is the answer.

Establishing the Need for Child Support

To receive child support in the state of Florida, you must have a court order that a judge signed off on. If you are going through a divorce, your Tampa divorce lawyer can help you through the process, which includes filing a petition for support. After filing your petition, you’ll have a hearing and will need to present proof of income and of your child’s financial needs. The judge will help to determine how much child support the other parent needs to pay.

What To Do if Your Ex Isn’t Paying Child Support

Sometimes, a parent chooses not to pay his or her support order. If your child’s other parent is in contempt of court, you’ll need to file a motion for civil contempt. While you can do it alone, hiring a professional to help you is recommended. To prove contempt, you’ll need to have a valid order of child support and proof that the other parent hasn’t paid even though he or she has the ability to do so. The other parent will need to prove inability to pay if that is the case. The judge then decides whether the parent is in contempt.

Penalties for Non-Payment of Child Support

The punishment for being in contempt of court will depend on the judge and whether the other parent has a history of not paying child support. First-time offenders often just need to create a payment plan to catch up. Repeat offenders, or those who are too far behind to catch up alone, may see wage garnishments, interception of tax returns, or other methods of income interception. Those who have a long history of contempt or who have a criminal history may lose their driving privileges or even go to jail for up to one year.

Remember, seeking out child support on your own is not recommended and has no legal recourse in court. If you need help taking care of your children, hire an attorney or seek legal aid to help you get what you need to make ends meet.

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