Understanding Child Support In Florida

October 10, 2022


There are many different common misconceptions regarding child support in Florida. Continue reading to gain a better understanding of the basic components and nuances pertaining to child support under Florida law.

Gender Impact On Child Support

Just like mothers aren't guaranteed custody over fathers, the parents' genders aren't considered when determining child support obligations in Florida. A mother can be ordered to pay child support just like a father.

50/50 Custody Support Termination

To some, it may seem only fair that if the parents split custody equally, neither should pay the other child support. However, the amount of time the child spends with each parent is only one of the factors considered for child support in Florida. The parents' respective incomes are also considered when calculating child support obligations. There are several other special factors that could be relevant in your child support matter. Contact a Florida family law attorney for more information.

Ease Of Modification

Many parents in child support matters assume that coming to a fair amount the first time isn't vital because orders can be modified. It is true that most family law orders can be modified, but that doesn't mean the process is simple. Family law judges are reluctant to overturn their own orders because they don't want to encourage continuous relitigating of issues because it is a waste of court time and resources. Modifying child support can also come with significant filing and attorney's fees. Our firm's strategy is to obtain desirable child support orders the first time around.

Joint Custody Means Joint Tax Claiming

Even if parents split custody down the middle exactly, they can't both claim the child as a dependent on taxes. The most common way we see our clients resolve this issue is by claiming the child every other year. However, make sure that you fully understand the tax implications before signing any child support agreement.

Gifts As Support

Even if you make timely support payments, there may still be items your child needs. Buying these items doesn't count as fulfilling your child support obligations. For example, your child needs an expensive graphing calculator for their math class. You can't purchase the item and deduct its cost from your monthly child support payment.

Does Legal Representation Waste Money?

Your first instinct may be to represent yourself in a child support matter. However, errors during your legal proceedings could be costly for years to come. Quality representation makes a difference whether you're going through your first child support matter or a modification. As early as you can in the process, reach out to an experienced family lawyers to see how they might help your situation.

Florida Child Support FAQs

Does The Father Always Have To Pay Child Support To The Mother?

No. There is no law requiring that fathers be the ones to pay support after two parents split.

My Child's Other Parent Is Behind On Child Support. Can I Withhold Visitation?

No. You can't withhold parenting time with your child because the other parent hasn't made support payments. There are several other avenues available to collect back child support. Talk to an experienced family law attorney at The Joseph Firm if you need help enforcing child support orders.

Do I Have To Get Divorced To Seek Child Support?

Not necessarily. Under Florida law, if a person having the ability to contribute child support to a minor child fails to do so, the spouse who is not receiving support may apply to the court for child support without seeking dissolution of marriage. [i]

How Long Does Child Support Last?

In Florida, generally child support lasts until the child's birthday. However, child support may be extended beyond the child’s 18 birthday if the minor child has a mental or physical incapacity which began prior to reaching 18 years old, or if the child is dependent in fact, is between the ages of 18 and 19, and is still in high school, performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19. [ii]

Can a Judge Order Whatever Child Support He/She Wants?

No, there are guidelines that a judge must adhere to. Under Florida law, a judge must follow the guidelines of Florida Statute § 61.30, which establishes the amount the judge shall order as child support in an initial proceeding for child support or in a proceeding for modification of an existing order for such support.

What Paperwork Is Required With A Petition For Child Support?

It varies, depending on your circumstances. However, generally, every petition for child support or for modification of child support must be accompanied by an affidavit which shows the party’s income, allowable deductions, and net income. [iii]

It’s important to note that the facts of your case may require additional paperwork, and thus, speaking with an experienced family law attorney may be helpful in saving you time, money and additional resources that may be wasted by representing yourself.

Can I Receive Retroactive Child Support?

Yes, but its limited to twenty-four months. [iv]

You can also request retroactive child support or child support for previous years (up to twenty-four months). Retroactive child support can only be ordered for time periods in which the parents were living separately.

What Does The Court Consider When Ordering Retroactive Child Support?

Some of the things that the court will consider are all the actual payments made by a parent to the other parent or the child or third parties for the benefit of the child throughout the proposed retroactive period. Additionally, the court will consider the parent’s actual income (and apply the guideline schedule) during the retroactive period.

Must The Retroactive Child Support Payment Be Made In One Lump Statement?

No, the court may consider an installment payment plan for the payment of retroactive child support.

Will Florida Tax My Child Support?

In Florida, neither the payer nor recipient parent must pay child support taxes.

How Do I Pay Child Support In Florida?

In Florida, court-ordered child support payments must go through the State of Florida disbursement unit, or FLSDU. The FLSDU has an online portal in which parents can make their child support payments. Parents can also send their child support payments to the FLSDU by credit card, electronic check, mail or cash.

Discuss Your Case With A Florida Child Custody Attorney

At The Joseph Firm, P.A., you can always expect to receive the highest-quality legal representation. Our attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in family law, including child support. We've had the pleasure of serving numerous clients in the South Florida area, and we're always ready and eager to help more clients reach the outcome they deserve.

Our team takes a personalized approach to every case, as we understand that every client's situation and needs are unique. We're committed to serving you in any way we can, striving to go the extra mile when you need us most. An experienced family law attorney from The Joseph Firm, P.A. can make your family law issues easier for you and your children. We focus on divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, modifications to time-sharing, and all other areas of family law.

Our firm offers case evaluations. To schedule a meeting with one of our Miami FL family law attorneys, call us at (305) 501-0992 or contact us online.


[i]See Fla. Stat. § 61.09.

[ii]See Fla. Sat. § 743.07(2).

[iii]See Fla. Stat. § 61.09(14).

[iv]See Fla. Stat. § 61.30(17).