If you live in Florida and your marriage is ending, you may have many questions about how to handle the support of your children and what might be involved. If the Florida courts have decreed that you must make monthly child support payments, understanding which steps to take when it comes to making payments correctly and on time, as failing to do so may result in fines and even jail time.
- Obtain a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer who can help you with state child support laws and other issues related to your divorce may give you peace of mind as you proceed with setting up your payments. You can also ask questions about any processes that are unclear and ask for assistance with paperwork or online forms. If you must return for court for any reason, having a lawyer at your side can provide you with support and represent your best interests.
- Learn About the Income Shares Model
Like many other states, Florida uses what is known as the income shares model to calculate how much you will pay in child support. The courts use this model to figure out how much each parent might have spent on their children if they were still married, and then each parent pays support based on his or her present income. If the court believes either amount is not appropriate, it may add or subtract five percent of that total amount, depending on your individual circumstances.
- Enforce Orders
If you have reason to believe your ex-spouse will try to avoid paying his or her child support obligations, there are several programs in Florida that may be able to help you enforce it. For example, the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program can prevent your spouse from collecting financial windfalls, deny the issuance of a passport and freeze income he or she may receive from unemployment.
- Set Up Payments
Once your payments are calculated, you can make them via mail, with cash or via the state’s online payment portal. It is wise to use a method that provides you with receipts or, if you must use cash, ask your ex-spouse to provide you with a written receipt. Set up monthly reminders about your payments and if you run into trouble with your income, ask your lawyer for advice about whether the courts will allow you to modify your payments.
Understanding Florida child support payment guidelines and laws can be daunting, but you do not have to struggle alone. Contact a divorce attorney, like from The McKinney Law Group, today for more information.