Unfortunately, there are still many myths about child support in the United States. This is especially true in the state of Florida. Child support laws in Florida are complicated and constantly changing, and this could be one of the main reasons for the confusion. Below, we will debunk six of the biggest myths about child support in Florida.
Myth #1: When Parents Share Parental Responsibility, Child Support is Not Necessary
In some cases, this could be true. However, in most cases, the court will order one parent to pay child support even if the parents share parental responsibility. Usually, even with shared parental responsibility, the child will spend more time with one parent. The primary goal of child support in Florida is to ensure that financial burdens for the children are shared equally.
Usually, child support is not awarded in situations where both parents earn the same, have equal time-sharing, and share equal financial responsibilities for the child.
Myth #2: Parents Decide on the Amount of Child Support
Parents cannot pick the amount of child support they deem fair. There is a formula for calculating child support in Florida, and courts always follow this formula. However, you should know that child support payments are not set in stone once determined by the court. There are many reasons that can trigger an increase or decrease in child support payments.
Myth #3: Child Support Only Lasts Until a Child is 18
Florida child support laws have changed, and today, it is possible for a parent to be required to keep making child support payments even after their child turns 18. For example, if a child reaches the age of 18 while still in high school, child support payments will continue until they reach the age of 19 or they graduate (whichever comes first). Also, Florida law allows child support to continue beyond the age of 18 if a child has a special need that renders them dependent. If a child has special needs, child support may even continue indefinitely.
Myth #4: Only Fathers Pay Child Support
This might have been true years ago, but things have changed. Today, the court can order the father or mother to pay child support. In Florida, courts consider the income of both parents and the time-sharing agreement when making child support decisions. Whether the parent is the mother or father is never taken into account.
Myth #5: Filing Bankruptcy Erases Child Support Debts
Filing bankruptcy can erase many debts, but child support debts are not among the debts that bankruptcy can erase. If you file bankruptcy, you may be able to put payments on hold, but you will still need to make payments after your bankruptcy is finalized.
Myth #6: Child Support Payments Can Only be Spent on the Child
Child support can also be used on things that indirectly impact the child, such as insurance, transportation, utilities, and mortgage. Additionally, the parent receiving child support is under no obligation to discuss expenditures with the parent making payments.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
At the Tampa Bay Legal Center, we understand that child support matters can be complicated. We can guide you and help you through your child support case. Contact us by calling (813) 341-3333 or filling out our online contact form.