Divorce Attorney Scott J. Stadler

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I Want Child Support – How Do I Get It?

Child support is a right belonging to the child. Parents cannot contract away their child’s right to support. That means that parents cannot agree that one parent does not have to pay child support. Agreements between parents to waive child support are invalid and void as against public policy.

While child support is commonly thought of in divorce cases, either parent can petition the court for child support even while married. A Florida court can grant a petition for child support when there is not a request for a divorce.

The court may at any time order both parents to pay child support in accordance with the child support guidelines. Additionally, the court has the discretion to award child support for 24 months prior to the date the petition for child support was filed.

Every order for child support must contain a provision for health insurance for the child when it is reasonable in cost and accessible to the child. The court may deviate from what is presumed reasonable in cost only upon a written finding explaining its determination why ordering or not ordering health insurance would be inappropriate.

Where the parties’ incomes are not equal, the contributions to medical insurance and uncovered medical expense are to be paid in proportion to each party’s ability to pay. The court must set a reasonable limit on the amount of medical insurance and the amount of uncovered medical expenses to be paid on behalf of the children. A payor will only be responsible for those expenses which are reasonable and necessary.

Impact of Social Security Payments on Child Support

Florida Statute 61.30(1)(a) establishes a presumptive amount of child support to be ordered by a trial court based upon the child support guidelines. The trial court may order the payment of child support which varies from the guidelines amount after considering all of the relevant factors under the statute.

As set forth in Florida Statute 61.30(2)(a) only social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits received because of a party’s disability and the dependent benefits that accompany it are considered income attributable to the parent in the child support calculation. It is error to combine the child’s SSI benefits with those benefits received because of a parent’s disability. The dependent benefits received by the child under SSDI are credited toward the disabled parent’s obligation. If the benefits are less than the child support obligation, the disabled parent must pay the difference. If they are more, the benefits pay the obligation in full. Any excess money going to the child stays with the child.

Where a child receives SSI because of the child’s medical condition, and later receives SSDI benefits based on her father’s disability, only the child’s benefits received from social security disability insurance (SSDI) could be credited against father’s child support obligations. The benefits that the child received from supplemental security income (SSI) because of the child’s medical condition cannot be credited against the father’s child support obligation.

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