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Understanding child support

Florida parents who share children with others are sometimes confused about the child support system. There are several important facts about child support that people need to understand.

If a father and mother are unmarried at the time a baby is born, the mother will need to establish the father's paternity in order to get child support ordered. It can be established by the father's acknowledgment of paternity. If he refuses, however, the mother will need to file a motion for paternity testing in order to establish it through DNA testing. The non-custodial parent is also not the only person required to support his or her child. Both parents are required to provide support for their shared children. Child support amounts are ordered based on the relative incomes of the parents with the idea that both are contributing.

One mistake people sometimes make is failing to ask that the court order child support payments to be made through the office of child support enforcement. With this, the payer sends the payments to the office, which then disburses them to the recipient. This can be very helpful if the payer falls behind, as the office will pursue the parent until he or she pays what is owed. Falling behind on child support or failing to pay it can result in serious legal consequences.

A person who is ordered to pay child support and who subsequently has an unexpected financial setback may want the assistance of a child support attorney in seeking a modification of the amount. It is important to remember, however, that if the court grants the modification it will only apply to future payments and will have no effect on any amounts that are in arrears.

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