Articles Posted in Child Support

Many parents in the Jacksonville, Florida area are under the impression that child support is paid throughout a child’s college eduction or until a child reaches the age of 21. Although this is true in other states across the country, it is simple not the case in Florida. In Florida, child support terminates when a child reaches the legal age of majority, 18. There is no statute or case law in Florida stating that a Parent has a duty to pay child support or help with a child’s college expenses.

However, there are always exceptions to any rule. For example, in Florida if a child becomes incapacitated or otherwise disabled and thus remains a dependent child, child support will more than likely continue. Conversely, if a child becomes emancipated through court proceedings or joins the military child support will terminate.

Whether child support was determined via a divorce action or a paternity action the termination date should be set out in the final judgment. If there is no termination date specified the law will dictate and the child support will terminate upon the child’s eighteenth birthday, unless, of course, the above mentioned exceptions apply.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for free.jpgJacksonville Divorce, custody and family disputes are highly emotional and important matters that we at Law Office of David M. Goldman take special pride in handling. Regardless of the circumstances, the break up of any marriage involves many legal issues that cannot be overlooked and must be thoroughly researched and evaluated so that our clients obtain a fair and equitable result upon the termination of their marriage.

Our Jacksonville Florida Divorce and Family Law Attorneys recognize that a divorce or child custody issue can create stress and cause individuals to take unrealistic positions on various topics. We strive to open lines of communication and help families work through this difficult process while creating an environment that allows children to enjoy a normal and healthy lifestyle. Whether you need an uncontested divorce or just enforcement of a previous agreement we are able to help preserve and enforce your rights in Duval, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns County.


If you are considering divorce or have just been served with divorce papers contact a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer at (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation.

sperm donor.jpgHere’s an interesting case. Four years ago, a Texas man split from his girlfriend, who was moving to California. They evidently split on agreeable terms; so agreeable, in fact, that he saw no reason to decline her request for his sperm to use in her in vitro fertilization.

She gave birth to triplets. Though acknowledging his biological paternity, the man went on with his life. He got married. He had no intent of ever being involved in the triplets’ lives. That all changed when his former partner sent him a letter requesting child support.

Unfortunately for him, the California law required child support payments to be made while the case was pending. So, while making the payments, the man challenged the requirement to do so. The first court found that he was legally obligated to make payments, so the man obviously appealed. There was no law directly on point in California; however, there was a law preventing donors (like him) from filing paternity claims against women who give birth to children using the donors’ sperm. The man argued that the converse should also be true; i.e., that he should not have to make payments to a woman who used his sperm for her in vitro pregnancy.

kid w calculator.jpgIn divorce cases in Florida, child support is required to be calculated in every marriage that results in children. The amount of support owed by either parent is calculated based on factors according to a formula set forth by the state of Florida.

Based on Florida law, if one of the parents is out of work and that parent cannot prove that they are employed to the best of their abilities, or attempting employment to the best of their abilities, then a judge can attribute the national median wage that is current to that parent. Currently, that median income can be as much as $40,000 per year.

Essentially, that means all efforts by someone who is going through a Ponte Vedra child support proceeding to improve or find employment need to be thoroughly documented and all efforts to find employment must be in good faith. If a Ponte Vedra parent is not able to be employed to the national median income level, they are better off being fully employed to the maximum of their abilities when facing a Ponte Vedra child support case.

Dennis Rodman.jpgRecent reports are suggesting that NBA Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman, may be facing up to 20 days in jail for failure to pay his ex wife court ordered child support and spousal support. Michelle Rodman is claiming that the Hall of Famer owes $51,441 in back spousal support and $808,935 in back child support for the parties’ 9 and 10 year old children. Michelle Rodman is also seeking attorney’s fees for having to bring a court action against the Hall of Famer. However, the former NBA star’s attorney is arguing Rodman is sick and broke and has no ability to pay the large amounts of child support and spousal support.

As a Child Support Attorney I see cases similar to Rodman’s all the time. Although, many cases do not involve back child support and spousal support in the amounts claimed above. In Ponte Vedra, Florida Judges take non-payment of child support very seriously. However, these Ponte Vedra Judges are restrained by the law and can only order jail time in very limited circumstances.

For instance, to put a non-paying parent in jail a Ponte Vedra Judge must:(1) find that the parent is willfully failing to pay the ordered child support amounts, (2) make the affirmative finding that the non-paying parent possesses the ability to comply with the purge amount and (3) put the above two requirements in a written order.

court.jpgDuring a Jacksonville divorce, many facets of a couple’s life are controlled by an order of the court. Things like time-sharing for the kids, alimony for a spouse, and distribution of assets. Something a Jacksonville Court cannot control is the way a father chooses to live his life, even if he is making choices that sacrifice the life of you and your child after the divorce is finalized. Take the following as an example.

Wife gets pregnant and shortly after goes through a dissolution of marriage with her husband. Wife has been raising her child for the last 2 years with her child’s father paying support. Lately, husband has been missing his payments and is about $5,000 behind in child support payments. He has been out of rehab and spent some time in jail, for which he also lost his job. Since that is the case, husband is petitioning the court to lower or reduce the amount of child support he owes.

A situation like this raises a few questions: will the court not enforce the arrearages of $5,000 because he can’t pay? The answer most likely not. A Jacksonville Court will not usually reduce past due support payments unless the husband is able to show he is entitled to a reduction for a compelling reason, such as lack of capacity to enter the marital settlement agreement, which prevented him from filing a motion prior to the support payments due date.

money.jpgMany parents in the Jacksonville, Florida area are under the impression that child support is paid throughout a child’s college eduction or until a child reaches the age of 21. Although this is true in other states across the country, it is simple not the case in Florida. In Florida, child support terminates when a child reaches the legal age of majority, 18. There is no statute or case law in Florida stating that a Parent has a duty to pay child support or help with a child’s college expenses.

However, there are always exceptions to any rule. For example, in Florida if a child becomes incapacitated or otherwise disabled and thus remains a dependent child, child support will more than likely continue. Conversely, if a child becomes emancipated through court proceedings or joins the military child support will terminate.

Whether child support was determined via a divorce action or a paternity action the termination date should be set out in the final judgment. If there is no termination date specified the law will dictate and the child support will terminate upon the child’s eighteenth birthday, unless, of course, the above mentioned exceptions apply.

A recent study showed that a total of $35 billion in child support is owed all across the US, but only 41% is actually paid. This is down from about 60% in 2009, largely due to the economic downturn over the past several years.

One thing many parents behind on child support don’t realize is that the court can, and will, alter your child support requirements if you legitimately cannot pay them. If you had a well-paying job when the court first established the numbers, it is not fair that you have to pay that same amount if you lost your job and cannot find another one.

The key is speaking with a Jacksonville Florida Family Law Attorney as soon as you can to help negotiate your payments. The court often will only lower your payments, but not reduce any outstanding amount you already owe. If your income drop is only temporary, this might not be an issue; however, if you cannot find new work, you are simply adding more and more money to what you will eventually have to pay.

empty pockets.jpgAs a Jacksonville Child Support Lawyer I consistently work with clients who are working to get their ordered child support modified. The first thing I tell these clients is, in order to have their child support award or obligation modified there must be a substantial and material change in circumstances since the child support amount was ordered.

What constitutes a substantial and material change in circumstances can range from losing or changing jobs to children leaving the home. Under theses circumstances either party can file with the court a Supplemental Petition to Modify.

However, increases in child support are generally retroactive only to the date of filing and reductions in child support are usually effective only from the date the court actually signs the order.

The State of Florida has child support guidelines that must be followed when calculating child support in a divorce or paternity case. Generally speaking, the parties’ combined net income, the percentage of time each party spends with the children, and the number of children involved are used in determining the amount of child support. Child care costs and health insurance costs are also added into the equation when determining child support.

It is important to note that child support cannot be waived by the parents. Child support is considered a right of the child not of the parent. Therefore, parents cannot bargain away their duty to support their child(ren).

Contact a Jacksonville Child Support Lawyer for further information of Florida’s Child Support laws.

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