Parents want to know: How can I ensure child support is paid on time? Although it is not always easy, here are 3 steps you can take to get child support paid as soon as it can be:
- Get the other parent into court now.
If you and the other parent have an agreement as to the amount of child support or the payment schedule, that is only half of the battle. Without something formal from a court, you may find yourself chasing after money. You may also find yourself without money if you and the other parent have a fight or if you refuse to let the other parent see the child. These types of games could affect your collection of child support if you do not have something formal, from the court, in place.
File a Petition for Child Support. Here, you have two options. First, you could utilize the Florida Department of Revenue. The benefit of utilizing the Department of Revenue (DOR) is that there is no cost to you. You go into their office, request child support, provide information regarding the other parent and the DOR office begins the process. The downside is that the process can take a long time and you may have difficulties reaching an attorney or staff member to discuss your case. You often have to make an appointment and go in person to the DOR office in order to get an update.
Second, you could hire a private attorney to file for child support against the other parent. A private attorney should be able and available to meet with you to discuss your case and give you a reasonable expectation as to how long your case will take. A private attorney will most likely want to move your case along as swiftly as possible in order to resolve (and close) your case.
- Obtain a child support order as soon as possible.
A child support order is the piece of paper you need in order for the legal obligation of the other parent to pay you child support to begin. A brief overview of the process looks like this:
- File court case through Petition for Paternity or Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce). Request child support in your Petition
- File financial affidavits with the court
- Attend Mediation to discuss Parenting Plan and child support
- If you reached an agreement, schedule a Final Hearing
- If you did not reach an agreement, schedule a status conference with the Judge
- Status Conference to update judge
- Other Status Conferences
- Pre-Trial conference to discuss what will be the issues at trial
- Trial/Final Hearing
In order for the court to determine what the child support obligation should be, both parents will need to file their financial affidavits with the court. This will allow the court to determine how much money each parent makes. You will also need to complete a Parenting Plan. This will allow the court to understand how much time your child(ren) spend with each parent. In Florida, the amount of child support a parent pays is directly related to how much each parent makes and how much time they spend with the child.
If you reached an agreement at Mediation, the Mediator should be able to calculate the child support for you. Ask the Mediator to have an Income Deduction/Withdrawal Order entered in the case also.
If you did not reach an agreement at Mediation, the court will be able to calculate child support based on a Parenting Plan and your Financial Affidavits. This may take place at the Final Hearing or sometimes before. The Parenting Plan is a large part in getting child support calculated.
- Request an Income Deduction/Withdrawal Order.
The Income Deduction/Withdrawal Order will subtract child support directly from the other party’s paycheck. The child support is sent to the State of Florida Disbursement Unit. The child support is then sent to you. This process is the best way to insure you receive the child support due and owing to you and the child. The State of Florida Disbursement Unit can also garnish tax refunds and suspend driver’s licenses in the event that the other parent gets behind, loses their job, changes jobs, or otherwise child support is not paid. You will be able to use the State of Florida Disbursement Unit to track child support payments.
You will not be able to use an Income Deduction/Withdrawal Order if the other parent is self-employed and does not receive a paycheck or if they are a 1099 Employee. However, if the paying parent does receive a paycheck and works for a company not owned by them, under Florida law, a court shall issue an Income Deduction/Withdrawal Order if a parent requests it.
You may want to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options. If you already have a court case pending or you had one previously, in some instances, you can reopen and get a child support order in that case. Sadly, sometimes parents do not see eye to eye and child support is often a sore subject. Some parents do not want to pay child support. Some believe they should not have to. Hopefully, these three steps are helpful in getting child support paid to you on time.