Who Must Pay Child Support in a Florida Divorce

Answers to commonly asked questions about when a parent must pay child support.

In the State of Florida, either parent may be ordered to pay child support
based on the nature and circumstances of the divorce. Child support guidelines are set out in Florida Statutes Annotated; Chapter 61.30. Specific factors for consideration include: (1) extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses; (2) independent income of the child; (3) the custodial parent receiving both child support and spousal support; (4) seasonal variations in a parent's income or expenses; (5) the age of the child, taking into consideration the greater needs of older children; (6) any special needs of the family; (7) the terms of any shared parental arrangement; (8) the total assets of the parents and the child; (9) the impact of any IRS Dependency Exemption; and (10) any other reason that should be considered in order to make the child support payments equitable. Health insurance for the child and life insurance covering the life of the parent ordered to pay support may be required by the court. Child support payments may be ordered to be paid through a state depository. [Florida Statutes Annotated; Chapters 61.13 and 61.30].

What's Below

Is a father who never married the mother still required to pay child support?

The short answer to this question is yes. When a mother is not married, however, it's not always clear who the father is. An "acknowledged father" is any biological father of a child born to unmarried parents for whom paternity has been established by either the admission of the father or the agreement of the parents. Acknowledged fathers are required to pay child support.

Additionally, a man who never married the child's mother may be presumed to be the father if he welcomes the child into his home and openly holds the child out as his own. In some states, the presumption of paternity is considered conclusive, which means it cannot be disproved, even with contradictory blood tests.

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Is a stepparent obligated to support the children of the person to whom he or she is married?

No, unless the stepparent legally adopts the children.

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Do I have to pay child support if my ex keeps me away from my kids?

Yes. Child support should not be confused with custody and visitation. Every parent has an obligation to support his or her children. With one narrow exception, no state allows a parent to withhold support because of disputes over visitation. The exception? If the custodial parent disappears for a lengthy period so that no visitation is possible, a few courts have ruled that the noncustodial parent's duty to pay child support may be considered temporarily suspended.

No matter what the circumstances, if you believe that your ex is interfering with your visitation rights, the appropriate remedy is to go back to court to have your rights enforced rather than to stop making support payments.

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How long must parents support their children?

Biological parents and adoptive parents must support a child until:

  • the child reaches the age of majority (and sometimes longer if the child has special needs or is in college)
  • the child is on active military duty
  • the parents' rights and responsibilities are terminated (for example, when a child is adopted), or
  • the child has been declared emancipated by a court. (Emancipation can occur when a minor has demonstrated freedom from parental control or support and an ability to be self-supporting.)
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Do fathers have the same right to child support as mothers?

Yes. If you're a father with custody, you have the right to ask for child support. Each parent has a duty to support his or her children, and that duty doesn't discriminate between genders.

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