New Child Support Laws in Florida – 2017
** May 3rd, 2017
A bill known as the “Florida Responsible Parent Act” which will allow new parameters for people delinquent on their child support to avoid having their driver’s licenses suspended resoundingly passed the Florida House late last week and is now in the Senate.
On April 28, the Florida House in a 118 to 0 vote passed HB 313, sponsored by Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, and its sister bill, SB 552, brought forward by Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee, is likely to pass after a 17 to 1 favorable vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee May 1. It is now slated for a second reading on the Senate calendar.
The bill, which would take effect July 1, would bring about big changes for people delinquent in their child support payments who have seen their driver’s licenses suspended by offering new criteria for challenging a delinquency action in court.
If it passes, the bill would allow people to file a petition to contest a delinquency action in circuit court stating the inability to make payments due to “circumstances including, but not limited to, temporary interruption in employment as the result of natural disaster, incapacitation as the result of an illness or temporary medical condition, or temporary unexpected involuntary unemployment.”
A court must hear the matter within 15 days after the petition is filed and enter an order resolving the matter within 10 days after the hearing, HB 313 reads.
* May 14th, 2014 – the new bill has been signed by Governor Scott. The effective date of the new law is July 1st, 2014
* May 3rd, 2014 – the new proposed 2014 Florida child support law has been finalized by both sides of the legislature and packaged for presentation to Governor Scott.
The new child support law, in its current form appears to be significantly watered down and lacks many of the previous proposals
The following provisions are deleted:
The provision allowing more previous child support judgments to be reopened solely based on the child support guidelines is DELETED
The provision that REQUIRES the court to recognize real world parenting schedules practiced by the parents has been CHANGED. Now that provision ALLOWS the court to recognize the real world schedules.
Here is the text centering on the last remaining provision that will affect Florida parents:
The bill amends s. 61.30(11), F.S., to expand the court’s ability to recognize a course of dealing by the parents in awarding child support outside the schedule. The bill includes in the deviation factors “a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties.” This will allow the court to take into consideration the actions of the parties, even if not reduced to writing. The expanded factor which the court may consider appears both places where the term “parenting plan” appears in s. 61.30, F.S.
* April 1st, 2014 – the new proposed law has successfully passed several committees in both the House and the Senate. There are many more steps needed for adoption of the new law. There will be many points where the legislation could be terminated for 2014.
A new Florida child support statute is currently working its way through the Florida legislature. The new child support law will potentially affect thousands of parents across the State of Florida. If passes by the legislature, and signed by the governor, the new support law would be effective on July 1st, 2014.
The new proposed child support law is currently known as Senate Bill 104 and House Bill 755.
Summary of New Child Support Provisions
Your Ability to Reopen a Case
to Modify Child Support
You need to show child support will change by at least $50 or 15% AND either party experienced a significant change in income that justifies a change in child support.
So what is the difference?
Before the new law, if the only thing that changed is the child support guidelines amount, and there is no change in either parent’s income – you would be prevented from filing for a change in child support.
If the new law changes – either parent can file for modification any time the guidelines indicate child support would change by at least 15% or $50.
Real World Split of Parenting Overnights
Affect Amount of Child Support
The courts must look at the real-world practice of the parents; how many overnights they actually observe – as opposed to what is on paper in the parenting plan. The actual behavior of the parents will be incorporated in the calculations to determine the amount of child support.
Courts are split on this issue. Some courts look at the division of overnights in the parenting plan and base child support on that number – regardless of reality.
So what is the difference?
Before the new law, many courts base child support on the parenting plan – even if the parents ignore that plan.
If the new law passes, courts will be required to look at reality. If you have a certain parenting pattern on paper, the court can no longer be blind to the actual pattern practiced by both parents. Child support calculations will possibly be a bit more fair.
Imputation of Income if a
Parent is Unemployed
The Courts will be required to impute income if either parent is unemployed. That means the court will assign a fictional income to either parent any time they are not employed. This fictional income will be used in the child support calculation.
Courts have the ability to impute income but do not always decide to do that. Some parents have their income accepted as zero for purposed of child support calculations.
So what is the difference?
Before the new law either parent could get away with being unemployed. Their zero income would be figured into the child support guidelines and would potentially affect the final number.
If the law passes, courts will have definite requirements to impute income, even if there is a good excuse for unemployment.
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More Reading: Child support overview, Child support calculator, When does child support end, Changing child support, How is child support calculated, Getting custody and support, Child support without divorce, State of Florida child support enforcement, Garnishing benefits for support, Imputed income for support, Child support for a child that is not yours, New child support laws