Establishing Child Support

Florida law defines child support as a court-ordered obligation for monetary support for a child's care, maintenance, training, and education. The court can order adults responsible for dependent children to provide money for their needs.

Florida statutes explain the legislative intent behind child support. Public policy dictates that parents must furnish resources to provide for their children to relieve the state and general citizens' burden of supporting the children. Regardless of whether the parents are married or single, they are responsible for providing for the child's financial needs.

Florida Establishing Child Support Attorney

At Bacchus Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale child support attorneys have extensive experience handling child support issues in every type of situation. We will take the time to listen to your needs and develop a plan to obtain the results that you deserve. Allow us to help you establish child support.

Having provided counsel to numerous clients throughout the Greater Miami-metropolitan area, Bacchus Law Firm accepts cases in Broward County, Palm Beach County, Collier County, and Miami-Dade County. Contact us today at to schedule a free consultation.

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Information Center

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Petition For Support And Hearing

Parents can file petitions in the circuit court clerk's office to establish child support in Florida. There are three ways that parents may file petitions for support.

  • They can petition the court pro se—on their own. In many cases, petition forms can be helpful.
  • Parents can hire an attorney to help them ask the court for child support.
  • They can apply to the Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Enforcement Program. Parents with children who need support are eligible for the program.

After a parent files a petition with the court, the court sets a hearing date. At the hearing, the circuit court evaluates whether the child needs support from their parent and how much support is appropriate. When both parents agree on the support amount, the judge will usually approve it and enter an order enforcing the agreement. However, if the parents cannot agree, the judge will decide how much money to order a parent to pay. 

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Florida's Child Support Guidelines

Florida's Child Support Guidelines state how much money a parent should generally pay in child support. The amount of money the court orders a parent to pay depends on how much the parent makes and whether the child has siblings. The court may deviate from the guidelines by five percent depending on the circumstances of the case. In special circumstances, the court may deviate from the guidelines beyond five percent. When this happens, the court must provide a written explanation of its reasoning. Since the guidelines rely on income to determine how much a parent must pay, the guidelines stipulate how to calculate income. For child support calculation, gross income includes the following.

  • Salary or wages
  • Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other payments
  • Business income from self-employment, partnerships, close corporations, and independent contracts. Business income is the total profits minus the business expenses
  • Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation
  • Pension, retirement, or annuity payments
  • Social security benefits
  • Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court-ordered spousal support in the marriage before the court
  • Interest and dividends
  • Rental income—total profits minus necessary expenses
  • Royalty, trust, and estate income
  • Reimbursements
  • Gains from property dealings, except nonrecurring gains

If a parent is unemployed or underemployed by choice, the court calculates child support as if the parent were employed. If the court cannot determine the parent's income or the parent chooses not to work, the court uses the median income of year-round, full-time workers. Once the court determines the parent's monthly income, it uses the number of children receiving child support to calculate the monthly child support payment. Here are some examples from the table.

  • When a parent earns $800 per month, the child support payment guidelines are $190 for one child, $211 for two children, $213 for three children, $216 for four children, $218 for five children, and $220 for six children.
  • When a parent earns $5,800 per month, the child support payment guidelines are $1102 for one child, $1705 for two children, $2134 for three children, $2406 for four children, $2627 for five children, and $2807 for six children.
  • When a parent earns $10,000 per month, the child support payment guidelines are $1437 for one child, $2228 for two children, $2795 for three children, $3148 for four children, $3432 for five children, and $3666 for six children.
  • When the parent's income falls below $800 per month, the court determines the child support payment on a case-by-case basis, taking the parent's unique circumstances into account.
  • When parents have a combined monthly income exceeding $10,000, the parent must pay the minimum amount plus the following percentages of income: five percent for one child, seven and a half percent for two children, nine and a half percent for three children, 11 percent for four children, 12 percent for five children, and 12.5 percent for six children.

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Enforcing Child Support In Florida

Florida has strong laws enforcing child support. When a parent must pay child support, a Florida circuit court issues an order requiring the parent to pay child support. If the parent violates the order, an individual may file a motion for civil contempt to enforce it.

When a person files a motion for civil contempt, it lets the court know that there is a valid child support order against the parent and that the parent has failed to provide the requisite payments. Once an individual files the motion, the court holds a hearing where the person who filed the motion must prove that the parent violated the child support order.

If the individual proves the case successfully, the judge can hold the parent in contempt and order the parent to pay overdue child support. The judge can also penalize the parent and take money from the parent as child support in various ways.

  • The court can order the parent to be imprisoned for up to a year.
  • When a parent is behind at least $600 or four months of child support, Florida can freeze the parent's financial accounts.
  • After a parent is behind 15 days on child support, Florida has the power to report the parent to credit bureaus.
  • When a parent is behind more than $2,500, Florida informs the U.S. Department of State, which revokes the parent's passport.
  • The judge can issue a court order to collect past-due child support from the delinquent parent, establishing a payment plan.
  • The court can withhold income from the parent's paycheck.
  • When a parent is $500 behind, the court can also take money from tax refunds.
  • The court can take lottery winnings of at least $600.
  • The court can garnish money from financial accounts if the parent owes $600 or four months of child support.
  • When a parent owes $600 or more, the court can place a lien on the parent's vehicle or force its sale. The court can also do this to the parent's property.
  • The court can take and sell abandoned property from the parent.
  • The judge can order the parent's home equity line frozen, preventing the parent from spending money.
  • The court can take workers' compensation benefits.
  • The delinquent parent may have to reimburse the parent who brought the motion for contempt for attorney fees, court travel costs, and expert witness fees.

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Additional Resources

Florida's Child Support Guidelines—This table shows how much a parent can expect to pay in child support, broken down by income and number of children. The table may encourage parents to settle child support disputes before a trial, as they can anticipate the court's order.

Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Services, Parent Services—The Florida Department of Revenue offers services to all parents whose children are entitled to child support, regardless of the parent's means, income, or ability to hire a private attorney. Through this resource, parents can apply for child support services and learn more about the aid the Florida Department of Revenue provides. These services include assistance with:

  • Making child support payments
  • Receiving payments
  • Establishing paternity
  • Genetic testing
  • Getting support orders
  • Calculating child support amounts
  • Incorporating parenting time plans into a support order
  • Changing support orders
  • Complying with support orders
  • Child support hearings
  • Contacting the Florida Department of Revenue

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Florida Child Support Lawyer | Broward County, FL

If you are interested in establishing child support in Broward County, FL, contact Bacchus Law Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience in family law matters such as divorce, alimony and child support. We can help you obtain a fair and reasonable solution.

Child support issues can be extremely complicated and both parents legal interests are best served by retaining experienced legal counsel. To seek the assistance of a skilled family law attorney, call (954) 500-5555 today. Our office is located in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and we serve clients throughout South Florida in cities like Miami, West Palm Beach, LaBelle, and East Naples, Florida.

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