Income Deduction Orders and Child Support Collection
Providing financial support for a child until the age of 18 is a responsibility most parents freely assume. This duty is not explicitly imposed on married couples, but is enforced in the form of government intervention if a lack of support results in child neglect. People are more familiar with child support as it applies to divorce and paternity cases in which one party is ordered to pay a specific amount of money to the other parent, and is subject to particular penalties if payment is not made. Receiving regular child support is incredibly important to the primary caregiver’s ability to adequately provide for the child, especially in light of the rising costs of raising a child today. The standard method used to ensure compliance with a child support order is through the issuance of an income deduction order, which requires the obligated parent’s employer to withhold and submit a specified amount of money to the Child Support Distribution Unit for dispersal to the custodial parent. This arrangement typically operates without issue, but a lawsuit filed by a Palm Beach woman over child support, which alleges her former husband and his employer conspired to under-report income so less money was withheld for child support, has turned this court order on its head. A Florida court of appeals is asking the state supreme court to hear this case, which appears to be the first of its kind.
Child Support Collection
Florida’s Department of Revenue Child Support Program is the central agency that manages the collection and distribution of child support to recipients throughout the state. While judges are not required to order the payment of child support go through the Child Support Program if it is within the best interest of the child, the vast majority of child support payments are funneled through this department. The State Disbursement Unit receives child support through income deduction orders or by direct payment from obligated parents, and supports custodial parents with obtaining and enforcing child support orders. However, using the Child Support Program to secure and enforce child support is highly inefficient, and subject to error due to the overwhelming number of people requesting assistance. Consequently, to ensure a child support petition is timely issued and promptly enforced, using a family law attorney is a better option.
Income Deduction Orders
Income deduction orders are viewed as a first-line effort to collect child support, and as a result, there is a strong preference for issuing them in all proceedings related to the establishment, modification, or enforcement of child support. Practically speaking, this means courts will almost always issue one unless a compelling reason to deviate from this standard is presented. The reason these orders are favored is because they take the responsibility of making the child support payments away from the obligated parent, who may have motivation to avoid paying, and transfers it to the employer. Income deduction orders obligate an employer to deduct the court ordered amount, plus any fees, penalties, or arrearage amounts directly from the employee’s pay. In addition, they state whether an employer is required to deduct the entirety or a portion of any income paid as a bonus or other one-time compensation if arrearages are outstanding. Income deduction orders are effective immediately and remain in force as a long as the underlying child support order is valid, or a court orders the employer to stop withdrawal. The only grounds one can assert to challenge the validity of income deduction order are:
- a mistake of fact related to the amount owed; or
- a mistake as to the identity of person listed in the order.
Consult a Family Law Attorney
Few single parents can afford to support their children without child support from a former spouse, and if you need to establish a child support order, or enforce an existing one, a family law attorney can help you get the money you need. The Law Office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale area, and is ready to fight for the money you need and deserve. Contact us for a free consultation.