Can I Avoid Paying Florida Child Support?
If you have children and you are in the process of getting a divorce, one of your main concerns will likely be the issue of child support. Generally, Florida requires all parents to contribute to the maintenance of their children, and gives the custodial parent a lot of options to force payment if the non-custodial parent does not contribute. However, if you are able to show that the amount required is too much, a modification may be possible.
The Right Belongs To The Child
One of the most important things to keep in mind about child support is that the right to support does not belong to either you or your co-parent – it belongs solely to the child, and that right cannot be bargained away or waived on their behalf. Florida law phrases it as parents “owing a duty of support to a child,” which means that unless the custodial parent agrees to not seek child support, the court will generally order it, because it is in the best interests of the child or children involved to have support coming.
Usually, a court orders child support based on what it calls an ‘income shares’ model, meaning that the amount of support you will be asked to pay is directly based on the amount of your net income (that is, your income minus certain expenses like taxes or health insurance payments). Some parents will try to lower their support obligations by voluntarily taking a pay cut or changing jobs, but Florida law allows the court to impute income to that person if the pay cut is found to be voluntary – in other words, if the court discovers that the parent voluntarily is making less money so as to avoid support obligations, the court will impose obligations at their old salary.
Modification Requires Causation
There are only two ways that you can be relieved of the obligation to pay child support, aside from your support agreement ending upon your child’s reaching the age of majority. One is if you experience a life change that is so serious it warrants terminating your support agreement – for example, if you are incarcerated, or if the custodial parent suddenly passes away. The other is if your parental rights are terminated by the state – this is when a court decides that your presence in your child’s life causes them physical, emotional, or financial harm.
These situations are profoundly extreme, and rarely come to pass. However, a court will agree, most of the time, to hear a petition to modify child support amounts as long as it is based on changed circumstances for one or both of the parties. If, for example, the noncustodial parent loses their job through no fault of their own, it is understandable that they would have less income with which to pay support. Florida has child support guidelines that are supposed to govern the amount of support each parent should pay, but courts are permitted to deviate from these guidelines if they can establish in writing that the situation may require it.
Call A Hollywood Child Support Attorney
Child support is often a hot-button issue because both parents want what is best for their children, but non-custodial parents also want to ensure that they are able to maintain an appropriate standard of living for themselves. If you have questions or concerns about your support agreement, calling a Hollywood child support attorney is a good idea. Attorney Steven A. Mason and the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. are ready and willing to try and assist you. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.