Child Support and Florida Department of Revenue
Paying child support is a necessary and mandated aspect divorced parents must follow, and this requirement is a central part of any divorce case involving children. However, unmarried parents still hold the same obligation to support their child until adulthood, but the process for establishing this ongoing obligation is not necessarily the same. Unlike divorce, which must be processed by the courts, child support obligations outside of divorce, usually between unmarried parents, may be established by an administrative order from the Florida Department of Revenue. This process differs from the experience a parent would have in court, including how they will be notified about the potential issuance of a child support order and the deadlines for contesting its validity. Simply because this issue is handled by a government agency, and not a court, does not mean an attorney is unnecessary to ensure fair treatment. Any parent facing this issue needs legal counsel.
Who Can Ask for an Order?
All minor children in this State are entitled to receive financial support from both parents, and a legal parent has the right to request services from the Department of Revenue once the child is born. Typically, requests come from the parent principally responsible for the child, and most often comes from an unmarried parent who has been separated from his/her partner. As part of securing child support, many parents asking for help need to first establish the paternity of their child. Women automatically receive recognition as a child’s legal parent, but unmarried fathers must first establish paternity to receive this designation. Establishing paternity in the context of a child support case usually involves DNA testing to see if the man and child are biologically related. It may also result from a voluntary acknowledgement by the purported father. Once settled, the establishment of child support can proceed.
Unlike court cases, a parent ordered to pay child support through the administrative process will not be formally served with papers to give him/her notice of the case. Instead, the parent being asked to pay will receive a letter in mail. This letter will outline the rights and responsibilities of the parent, including the fact that the parent has just 20 days to notify the agency he/she wants the case to be entirely handled by a court, or at least the parenting issues. In addition, the parent must provide the requested financial information within 20 days, which is used to calculate the child support amount. Further, the parent being asked to pay also has 20 days to request a hearing with the Department in writing, or to contact them within 10 days to arrange a conversation about the proposed order. If the parent does nothing, the child support order will be issued, along with a time-sharing schedule, and the Department has enforcement powers similar to a judge, so this order should not be ignored. Either parent may later ask a court to modify the child support order, but there is no guarantee this will be granted. The better course of action is to involve a family law attorney from the beginning, so the appropriate interests of the parent are fully protected.
Get Help Today
Notice of pending child support orders with the Department of Revenue offer very small windows to act on the information. The Fort Lauderdale child support attorneys at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. understand how overwhelming a child support notice can be, and are available to review your situation and formulate the best response. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.