Raising a child can be costly, and many people cannot afford to do it alone. Thus, when the parents of a child share custody, it is not uncommon for one parent to seek child support from the other parent. If you wish to seek financial assistance from your child’s co-parent or have recently received a notification that a child support action has been filed against you, you should speak to an attorney to discuss your rights. Felicia A. Bunbury at The FAB Law Firm is a trusted Orlando child support lawyer who is dedicated to helping parents protect their rights. Ms. Bunbury regularly assists people with child support matters throughout Florida.The Florida Child Support Guidelines
Although all parents have an obligation to provide for their children financially, it is not inherently clear what constitutes a suitable amount of funding. As a result, Florida has developed guidelines to assist the courts in determining an appropriate amount of child support. The guidelines rely on the income shares method, which essentially derives from the theory that a child should receive the same percentage of a parent's income as the child would if the parents resided in the same household. Thus, under this method, the courts determine the combined income of both parents, assess any deductions such as health care expenses and taxes, and determine an obligation based on the length of time that each parent spends with the child and the number of children who need financial support.
To accurately determine the amount of support that should be granted, both parents must submit affidavits regarding their expenses and income. Income includes not only wages but also any commissions, bonuses, pensions or annuity payments, spousal support, and disability benefits. The courts can also impute income to a parent who intentionally avoids working to avoid a child support obligation if certain evidence is presented that establishes that the parent is willfully refusing to work. A child support attorney in Orlando can help you gather this evidence if needed. The court may deviate from the guidelines upon a showing that a departure is warranted due to relevant factors, such as the financial status of the parents and the child’s needs. If a court’s support order varies more than five percent from the guidelines, however, it must set forth a written explanation as to why the amount dictated by the guidelines is inappropriate.Child Support Modifications and Enforcement
While child support orders are intended to provide a child with the financial support that he or she is entitled to receive, changes can occur that require a modification of the support obligation. Generally, a parent may request an adjustment of a support order if the circumstances have significantly changed since the court issued the order. In other words, the parent must show that there has been a substantial and permanent alteration in one of the factors used to determine the support amount.
An Orlando child support attorney can assess whether you may qualify for a modification. Examples of situations that may constitute grounds for a modification include a change in either parent’s income due to job loss or a reduction or increase in pay, a parent’s debts, or financial obligations. A modification of a parent’s custody rights or additional health needs of either parent or the child may be adequate cause to change a support order as well.
If a parent declines to pay child support, he or she may be held in contempt of court, and a judgment may be issued against the parent. It is important that the parent entitled to receive support continue to comply with any established custody arrangement or order, since a failure to pay child support is not a basis for one parent to prevent another parent from having access to a child.Speak to a Seasoned Child Support Attorney
Parents have a duty to support their children, which includes providing financial support, but in some instances, a court order is required to make parents fulfill their obligations. Felicia A. Bunbury at The FAB Law Firm is a child support lawyer in the Orlando area who can vigorously advocate on your behalf. You can contact our firm via the form online or at 1-888-262-1618 to schedule a confidential and free meeting.