Can My Wages Be Garnished for Child Support in Florida?

998275_business_time_4.jpgChild support in Florida is based on numerous factors, including the income of the parents, the time-sharing/visitation schedule, etc. In a child support case, such as divorce or paternity actions, the Court may enter an order requiring one party to pay child support to the other, or sometimes, for both parents to pay support to a third party (i.e. when an extended family member is taking care of the child). When entering the child support obligation, the court determines which party will be responsible for paying child support based on multiple factors in the child support calculation outlined in Florida Statute 61.30. As a divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida I often receive questions about how to stop child support once a child reaches 18 years of age. Thankfully, the Florida legislature recently modified how child support will be stopped instead of having to go back to court. Of course, like all new laws, it only impacts the orders that have been entered since it was entered, so there are still some hoops to jump through if your child support obligation is older than October of 2010, Florida Statute 61.13.

Florida Statute 61.13 provides some guidelines for determining the nuances of child support, such as the length of time support will be paid, how it will be paid and the like. The Statute provides that child support can be paid through an income deduction order, which means that the wages of the paying party may be garnished. When an income deduction order is entered, there are provisions that must be in the order so that the payroll department and the Florida Department of Revenue are all speaking the same language from the beginning until the end of the obligation.

Since October, 1, 2010, the order must have language not just specifying the date for the child support to begin, such as January 1, 2012, but also when it will end (e.g. the child’s 18th birthday or date of graduation if it falls within 743.07(2)). Also, the order must specify how much support will be owed each month initially, and if there is more than one child, then what the child support will be when the oldest child no longer qualifies for child support. The order will also say whether the money will be deducted monthly, bimonthly or at the payroll schedule of the responsible party.

The change in these orders is helpful because previously, when a child reached the age of 18 and graduated from high school, the income deduction order remained in effect until the Court terminated the obligation. This forced the paying party to file a Supplemental Petition to Modify or Terminate Child Support and go through the hassle of hiring an attorney and paying a new filing fee. The change is a good one, but is one that the court must be careful in its language to make certain that the children have support until they meet one of the many nuances for which they qualify for child support, including an expected graduation date after their 18th birthday.

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