Parents are obligated to pay for the support of minor children regardless of physical custody. In Florida, the guidelines for support are established in Florida Statues 61.30. The State of Florida has two routes to obtaining a child support order: administrative and judicial.
Administrative Support Procedure
You can seek an order of support via the administrative support procedure if:
- You don't currently have an established order of support
- Paternity has been established
- The non-custodial parent's location is known
Steps in the Administrative Support Procedure
- Contact the Department of Revenue (DOR), Office of Child Support Enforcement.
- Apply for services.
- Supply the necessary financial data.
- The DOR will send a notice to both parents via certified mail or personal delivery.
- Both parents will have 20 days to review the order and complete a financial affidavit, which will be included with the notice.
- The DOR will calculate the support amount based on the supplied financial data.
- Each parent will receive a proposed order of support.
- The non-custodial parent will then have the option to agree to the order, request a meeting, or request a judicial hearing. If the non-custodial parent does not respond, then the order will be entered.
- The DOR then files the order with the appropriate agencies and begins collecting support via payroll deduction or from the non-custodial parent.
Judicial Support Procedure
Parents can seek support via the judicial procedure if:
- Paternity has not been established
- They are requesting modification of an existing order
- The whereabouts of the non-custodial parent is unknown
- They prefer the judicial procedure
To initiate the judicial support procedure, parents can contact an attorney or the DOR.
Steps to Establishing a Judicial Support Order
- Contact the DOR and apply for services.
- Custodial parent meets with DOR personnel at a local office to supply the necessary information.
- If necessary, the DOR will locate the non-custodial parent.
- The DOR interviews the non-custodial parent to obtain necessary data.
- The DOR prepares the necessary paperwork and provides it to an attorney the agency has contracted for review.
- The attorneys serve the non-custodial parent with a summons notifying them of the child support action. The non-custodial parent has 20 days to respond.
- A hearing date is set, typically for 60 days or longer in the future.
- The hearing occurs before a judge, who then issues the support order.
- Once the DOR receives the order back from the courts (it usually takes around two weeks), it begins collecting child support via payroll deduction.
Florida uses a standardized calculation based on:
- Both parents' incomes
- Number of children
- Healthcare and childcare costs
- Age of the child
With this information, support is calculated using the Standard Needs table found in Florida Statues 61.30, and healthcare/childcare costs are factored in. Each parent's support obligation is apportioned based upon his or her percentage of earned income. To get an estimate of child support obligations, you can enter information into the Florida Child Support Calculator.
Florida courts may allow parents to deviate from standard calculations in special circumstances including:
- Extraordinary educational, health care, or childcare costs
- Age of the child
- Total available assets of either parent
Either parent may seek modification of an existing order under certain circumstances including:
- A substantial and permanent change in circumstances occurs
- If the difference in the monthly obligation changes to be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever is greater
- A change in physical custody occurs
- Orders will be reviewed only once every three years
- An increase in the child's needs occurs, such as extraordinary medical expenses
- You need to extend support for a child who has turned 18 but is still enrolled in and attending school
Supporting Your Child
Child support exists for the benefit of the child. If you are parent of a child due support, contact an attorney or the Florida DOR to ensure your child gets the financial support he or she needs.