In Depth: Required Termination Date on Court Orders & Problems
In the past decade, Florida enacted a statute that requires all child support orders to contain a end date for child support, specifying that child support ends on the child’s 18th birthday. When there are multiple children included in a child support order, child support is calculated for different dates in the future, as each child reaches the age of 18.
An Income Withholding Order, an IWO (formerly called an Income Deduction Order) normally accompanies child support orders. The IWO is also required to contain end dates for child support. If there are several children, the IWO should contain changed amounts of child support as each child ages out.
Any Florida child support order signed before October 2010 may not have end dates or termination dates. Despite the requirements of Florida child support law, many child support orders signed after October 2010 do not contain any mention of support termination dates. Many judges still regularly sign orders without dates and those orders are still valid despite the requirements in Florida child support statutes. The same potential problem exists for Income Withholding Orders.
Terminating or Ending Child Support in Florida – No Termination Date on Order
The requirement to incorporate end dates for Florida child support was intended to eliminate a major headache for many parents – the need to return to court for an order terminating child support. Sometimes it works well and other times it does not. How easy it will be to terminate a child support obligation will depend on several factors.
Direct payment of Support
The easiest way to end child support is if your child support order requires you to make direct payments to the other parent, and not to the State of Florida. In other words, if have a history of writing checks and mailing them directly to the other parent, that is considered direct payment. If you have a child support order that requires direct payment, and your children reach legal termination for child support, you can simply stop paying. The reason for the added simplicity is that no state agency is tabulating and tracking your payments.
Direct Payors Can Simply Stop at the Correct Date
Your right to end payments hinges on whether you have reached the correct date, and there are no exceptions that extend your obligation of child support. But if your children are old enough, there are no exceptions, and you pay directly, you can simply stop making payments. There is no obligation to reopen your child support case or file documents with the court. When you reach the proper child support end date – you are done!
Payment through the State of Florida
Many people pay their child support directly to the state, or their employers do so on their behalf. The State of Florida has an agency called the State Disbursement Unit. It is run by the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement and is charged with keeping accurate records of child support. You may see the acronym on your child support judgment, the FSDU. Your child support judgment may say payments shall be made through the FSDU. That is a shorthand indicating the state will accept and disburse child support payments. If your employer deducts support because of an Income Withholding Order, the money always flows through the FSDU
If the FDSU is involved, you will need a child support attorney
Even if your judgment indicates when child support will end, you must get an order from a judge terminating the disbursement unit account. Even if your Income Withholding Order has an end date and your employer terminates child support deductions, you still must get an order terminating the disbursement unit account. If you do not properly take care of that you are in danger of being accused of failing to pay child support. Payers of child support should be aware of potential pitfalls in orders of termination for child support. Several different agencies must become aware of the termination order. The most important is the Florida state disbursement unit. Normally your local clerk of court takes care of this step. But there are occasional issues. Your Ayo and Iken attorney can help you ensure there are no loose ends.
Sometimes, Florida Child Support Ends at Age 19
The Florida statutes contain a provision that extends child support until your child reaches the age of 19. If your child has not graduated high school by his or her 18th birthday, child support will not end at 18 but instead will continue until graduation. 19 years old is the maximum age for a child in Florida for parents to continue receiving child support (except in rare instances – read below).
If a child graduates from high school after 18, but before 19, child support ends on the day of graduation.
There is a little twist in Florida child support law that may terminate child support earlier. If your child is definitely not on track to graduate high school before the age of 19, then child support will terminate at the 18th birthday. That is a provision that encourages parents to ensure their child graduates on time. It probably was not intended that way – but that is the effect.
Child Support Can Continue After Age 19, or May Never End
If your child is special needs, and cannot become a self-supporting adult, then Florida child support never ends and can last for the life of the child. If your situation matches this, it is essential you recognize the special needs status in the text of the final court order or a later child support modification. If you have not done that, your child reaches the age of 18, and child support has already ended, then you cannot reopen the case to continue child support. This requirement is absolute and cannot be later changed by a court.
Role of Florida Child Support Enforcement in Terminating Child Support
Florida child support enforcement, also called the Florida Department of Revenue can help, hinder, or completely ignore you when it comes time to end, change, enforce, or suspend child support. They are more likely to get involved if they have been involved from the start. But like most state agencies, they are large, unwieldy, and unpredictable. Their telephone and voice mail system can be completely maddening. Many people talk of spending hours on the phone trying to reach a human being – without success. Many people relay experiences of speaking to child support representatives in person, getting a promise of action, and then seeing the opposite result.
If you have a problem with child support or need to terminate child support in Florida, you may or may not want to visit the Dept of Revenue office. They have local offices in most counties. The basic problem for people paying child support is that Florida Child Support Enforcement does not appear particularly concerned with helping them. Payers and receivers of child support sometimes get excellent help – and sometimes they receive no help.
Stopping Out-of-State Child Support Orders
Out-of-state child support orders can be a problem for many people. There is a network of state laws all over the country that require states to work together on the collection of child support. If an out-of-state court issued the original child support order, then that state’s law governs when child support ends. That holds true even if Florida is helping with enforcement and collection.
But there are situations where a paying parent can move the court order to Florida and get an order terminating child support. That may be possible if both parents and the child are now located in Florida. This is a complex area of child support law and it is best for an Ayo and Iken child support attorney to determine the proper course of action.
The Role of Private Child Support Attorneys
A good child support attorney can always bring value to the situation. A qualified professional, that is working for your side can read through the last child support orders and determine what further action is needed to stop your child support. As shown above, the course of action depends on the exact language in the child support order. Even if child support enforcement is uncooperative, a private child support attorney can bring the issue to a judge and get an order that overrides the decisions of everyone else. A judge can issue orders to the Florida State Disbursement Unit, can change child support arrears, and can terminate child support under the various rules and Florida child support law.
How to End Child Support in Florida – Procedure
If your situation does not allow simply cease to pay child support, you must file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support. It is filed under your original case number – in the same court where the order was originally entered. This process can be complex depending on the county, and jurisdiction. Many times the process is similar to an original divorce or paternity case and can require the same amount of steps.
A Supplemental Petition to Modify or Terminate Child Support must be filed, and served on the other side, financial information must be swapped, you may be required to mediate, and the court may schedule a final hearing. It is a complex, drawn-out process. It is best for a support attorney to look at things to determine if there is a more simple way to end child support.
Get Started Now
The Law Firm of Ayo and Iken gives free consultations for termination of child support issues. The best child support attorneys will always work with you to determine the most simple, direct way to end child support for your particular situation. We can help with that process and guide you in the most cost-effective, timely way.