Florida Income Deductions for Child Support: How Does It Work?
When a court enters an order for child support, there are several ways in which the payments can be made. They can be made directly between the parties, as long as they agree and it's in the best interest of the children involved. If that is not the case, they can be sent through the SDU, which is a depository that receives and sends support payments.
There is also the alternative of an automatic deduction from the paying parent's income, which is also processed through the SDU. It is discretionary, and its effect is immediate unless the judge determines there are findings that have merit to delay its effectiveness. It is likely to be immediate when the obligor (paying parent) has a history of defaulting on its support payments.
Whether you have gone through a divorce or are dealing with a child support obligation, it is sometimes imperative that you reach out to a Florida divorce attorney or Florida Family Law attorney who would be able to guide you and assist you through the process.
An income deduction order will direct the paying parent's payor, or employer, to:
• Deduct the specified amount and forward it.
• Deduct an additional 20% or more if there is any arrearage due (unpaid previous support payments).
• Provide that if an arrearage accrues after entering the order, the payor must deduct an additional 20% of the current obligation, or an amount agreed by the parties, until the delinquency and attorney's fees and costs are paid.
• Deduct additional amounts from bonuses and other one-time payments.
• Do not deduct more that is allowed by the Consumer Credit Protection Act.
• Direct that payments are made through the SDU.
In Title IV-D cases (where the child support enforcement agency is enforcing the order), it will advise the payor to notify when each deduction is made. If the child support is reduced or terminated, but there are outstanding related obligations, income deduction would remain in place until the obligations are fulfilled.
Orders entered after October 1, 2010 also must:
• Require termination of support when the child turns 18, unless the person has a physical or mental incapacity that began before reaching majority, or is still attending high school with reasonable chances of graduating before turning 19.
• Provide a schedule stating the amount of the monthly child support for all the children, and how much will be owed for the remaining children after each one in no longer entitled to receive child support.
• State the date of reduction or termination of child support.
If there are outstanding arrearages, current support has priority. When the obligation of current support is satisfied, the remaining funds can be used to reduce arrearages from previous orders.
The obligor can request a hearing within 15 days of a notice of delinquency or income deduction to contest mistakes of fact in the amount owed, arrearage, or the identities of the obligor, obligee or payor, and the court must hear within 20 days after the request is filed. The obligor can later apply for a hearing at any time, but it does not affect the enforcement of the order.
The employer, or payor:
• Can charge the obligor a $5 administrative fee for the first payment, and $2 for every subsequent payment.
• Cannot discharge, refuse to employ or take disciplinary action against the obligor because of an income deduction order.
• Must notify the obligee (or Title IV-D agency if applicable) when it no longer provides income to the obligor, as well as the obligor's last known address and the contact information of the new payor, if it is known.
Though income deduction is designed as a protection to the primary custodial parent, it protects the paying parent too because it is presumed by the court that child support is a top priority for both parents and the deduction makes sure that the obligations are fulfilled and there is no arrearage accumulated, while it also avoids the friction of the contact between the parents.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nico Apfelbaum
Nico Apfelbaum, Esq. is the managing attorney of Apfelbaum Law, a Florida law firm serving Port St. Lucie, Stuart, the Treasure Coast and assisting clients with matters throughout Florida. Apfelbaum Law provides a wide variety of legal services, including, family law, divorces, business and contract transactions and litigation, immigration, wills and estate planning, probate law, and real estate law. The attorneys of Apfelbaum Law will answer your questions, explain your options, and provide you with the tools and resources you need to make an informed decision.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.