Ordinarily the obligation to support a child ends when that child reaches eighteen, marries, or becomes financially independent. However, child support may continue beyond the child’s eighteenth birthday. If the child is still in high school after turning eighteen and has a reasonable likelihood of graduating, than child support continues if the child will graduate before the 19th birthday. In addition to basic child support, the parents have an obligation to pay for child expenses and medical expenses of the child.
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.
Importance of Keeping Records
Keep records when you pay or receive child support payments. Keep a list for all your payments. Write down the check or money order number, date, account number, and name of the bank or better yet keep a copy of each cancelled check. Write on each check which month the money is for. Get a signed receipt by the recipient for any cash payments.
The best case I ever saw in court for proof of child support payments was a gentleman who paid child support by check. Each month he paid his child support on time. Each month he took the cancelled check and put it in a photograph album. He kept the photograph album in a safe deposit box at the bank. Just before the child turned 18 the mother tried to hold the father in contempt of court for non-payment of child support. The mother know that she had received all child support payments required by law. She thought that the father did not keep records and that he would be thrown in jail. The father, the sly fox that he was, never told the mother about his excellent record keeping.
When he was summoned to court he produced his photograph album and each cancelled check for every year. Twelve checks per year for 18 years is 216 checks. He had them all. The judge complimented the father and told him that his photograph album containing each cancelled check was the best presentation of evidence he had ever seen in his 25 years as a judge. The father was able to leave the courtroom a free man with the judge’s blessing. He never once looked at his ex-wife in the courtroom. He did not have to.