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Southwest Florida Bankruptcy Law Blog

Issues parents may have over child support

Arguments over child support can cause a rift in the co-parenting relationship for some parents in Florida. When marriages end because of financial issues, those same issues may carry over into the child support arrangement.

This was the case for one man whose marriage ended after he and his wife ran into financial issues. Several years after the divorce, he was in the midst of restructuring his debts as part of a bankruptcy filing in a way that would allow him to keep his home and vehicle. However, when he contacted his wife to say that his child support payments would be late, she turned to the court system. As a result, the man was unable to restructure his debts and lost his home. Later, because of his poor credit, he was not able to get a vehicle to replace one that had been totaled.

How to meet parenting challenges after divorce

Parents in Florida who choose to get divorced will need to continue to raise their children together. This can be difficult even if the divorce was relatively peaceful. However, it can be made easier by keeping the focus on doing what is best for the child. Generally, fighting or acting in a less than mature manner around the kids does not help to meet that goal.

Divorced parents should understand that the child will want a relationship with both parents. This means that steps should be taken to encourage spending time with that person. Exceptions can be made in legitimate cases of abuse, neglect or major mistreatment. Otherwise, children should have both parents in their lives even if something controversial such as adultery caused the marriage to end.

Jesse Williams ordered to pay $50,000 in child support

Florida residents who are following Jesse Williams' divorce and child support battle may be interested to learn that on June 19, a court ordered the actor to pay more than $50,000 in child support every month. With his ex-wife, the actor has two kids, ages 2 and 4.

Prior to the modification on his child support, Williams had been making payments in the amount of $33,424 every month. The actor did ask the judge to deny the request, stating that his ex-wife exaggerated both the children's needs and associated expenses. He claimed that his ex-wife included her personal expenses when reporting what the children's needs were.

Is the other parent harming your relationship with your child?

Children benefit when they are able to maintain strong relationships with their parents after the divorce process is final. Many Florida parents are able to abide by the terms of their custody order and provide their children with peace of mind and continuity of lifestyle by working together. 

However, you may find this is not the case in your situation. When parents continue to fight and remain in contention over the children after the custody order is final, it can lead to potentially serious issues. One of these issues is malicious parenting, which happens when one parent attempts to damage the child's relationship with the other parent.

Payroll and child support in Florida

According to the commissioner of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, almost two-thirds of child support collections are conducted via electronic portals, and the agency is hoping to improve on these efforts. However, before the program is expanded, there has to be proof that such efforts would actually result in the office becoming more efficient.

In 2017, payroll withholding was the means of collection for $24.4 billion of the overall $32.4 billion that was collected for child support payments that year. Also recorded by the office for that year were 67,458,725 new hire reports, which were used by employers to draft any mandatory child support payments from their employees' wages.

Steps for collecting child support from parent hiding income

In Florida and elsewhere, child support law uses the income of parents to determine how much they should pay. To manipulate this system and avoid paying child support, some people voluntarily impoverish themselves. Voluntary impoverishment involves avoiding work or lying on tax returns about income. A person might also purposefully be underemployed instead of taking advantage of available full-time positions.

When a custodial parent suspects that the other parent could find a better job or is actually hiding income, the first step is to obtain a formal child support order from a court. The court order will enable enforcement actions. Once in possession of the child support order, a custodial parent could inform the Office of Child Support Enforcement about the person's delinquency.

Chid support payments and unemployment

Florida residents who are required to pay child support should be aware that the obligation to make payments does not stop if they unexpectedly become unemployed. However, there are several ways a recently unemployed payee could lessen the financial impact of such a situation.

The noncustodial parent should contact the necessary state agencies as soon as possible to determine if they qualify for unemployment benefits. If they are deemed eligible for the benefits, they should inform the unemployment officer about their existing child support orders. The child support payments will then be deducted from the parent's unemployment benefits.

The truth about child support numbers

Florida residents who are negotiating child support agreements or are paying or receiving child support might be curious about the amount of support custodial parents receive on average. They might be surprised to find that the numbers are often much lower than some political figures have claimed.

According to statistics from the U. S. Census Bureau, released in a report entitled 'Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support," there are 13.4 million single-parent families in the U.S. Of this number, slightly less than half have a child support agreement in place, with 89.8 percent having legal, court-ordered agreements and 10.2 percent following informal agreements set up by the parents. The majority of custodial parents awarded child support were mothers, with 52.3 percent, with about 31.4 percent of custodial fathers also awarded child support.

Could this living arrangement help your kids cope with divorce?

No two children react to divorce in exactly the same way. Each of your children might have handled news of your impending marital break-up in his or her own way. One might have been a bit more vocal about feelings than another was. Hopefully, by letting them know it's not their fault, that you love them and will be there to support them as they adapt to a new lifestyle, you gave them tools for coping as well as possible.  

If one of your main concerns has to do with where your children will live and the possible stress involved in shuttling them back and forth between two homes, you may be interested in learning more about a post-divorce parenting trend that is becoming more commonplace in Florida and beyond. It's called bird nesting. In short, you can protect your parenting rights and simplify your children's lives as they come to terms with having only one parent at a time under their roof. 

Divorce and saving for college

Being able to send children to the college of their choice is a concern for many Florida parents. Unfortunately, this goal can be even more difficult if parents are getting a divorce and facing new financial obstacles. With careful planning, however, divorcing parents can make sure that they will be able to afford their children's college tuition expenses.

Investing funds in a 529 plan is one route divorcing parents can take toward set aside money intended to pay for college. This type of account allows money to accumulate with no taxes, and there will be no taxes assessed when the money is withdrawn as long as it is applied toward educational expenses. However, parents should already begin using a 529 plan or similar accounts for college funds before filing for divorce.

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