Child Support Benchbook
The issue of child support can be handled in several different courts in Florida, either by itself, or as part of a separate family law case. Article V, Sections 5 and 6 of the Florida Constitution grant the circuit and county courts jurisdiction to hear cases prescribed by general law. Article V, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution grants administrative officers quasi-judicial power in matters connected with the functions of their offices. Rule 12.491, Fla. Fam. L. R. P., applies to the proceedings for establishment, enforcement, or modification of child support when a party seeking support is receiving services pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. §§651 et. seq.) and to non -Title IV-D proceedings upon administrative order of the chief justice.
1. Child Support Legal Outline
Click here for the Child Support Legal Outline pdf.
2. Income Withholding
- Click here for an Overview.
- Federal IWO Instructions: Updated 2014.
- Fillable Federal IWO form 0970-0154 (2014). After clicking on the link to open the PDF please save it your device (computer, tablet, phone) in order to enable the fillable attributes of the form.
- Florida SCT opinion regarding child support forms: In Re: Amendments to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure —FORM 12.996(d), 94 So.3d 558, (Fla. 2012). Another Supreme Court Opinion 121 So.2d 505 (Fla. 2013).
- Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement IWO Benchcard.
- Click here for the NCJFCJ benchcards.
- Income Withholding for Support (IWO): A Guide to the IWO is a training presentation designed for use by states, employers, courts, and others to assist them in understanding and completing the IWO form. It is best understood if used with the IWO instructions and the IWO sample form that is keyed to the instructions.
3. Hearing checklists
- Child support Hearing Officer Colloquy
- Motion for Contempt Checklist
- Petition for Paternity Checklist
- Petition for Superseding Order Checklist
- Petition for Support Checklist
- Petition to Modify Child Support Checklist
4. Promising practices - Child Support in Dependency Cases
According to the principles of unified family court as described in In re Report of Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518 (Fla. 2001), the best practice is to handle the child support matter before the same judge hearing the dependency case to avoid conflicting orders and multiple court appearances by the parties, as well as to increase efficiency and wisely utilize court resources. Please note: Section 39.521(1)(d)(7), Florida Statutes, states: “The court may exercise jurisdiction over all child support matters, shall adjudicate the financial obligation, including health insurance, of the child’s parents or guardian, and shall enforce the financial obligation as provided in chapter 61.” Click here for the child support section of the Dependency Benchbook.
5. Promising practices – Child Support in Domestic Violence Cases
The Best Practices Model on Child Support in Domestic Violence provides helpful guidelines for judges facing child support issues in a domestic violence case. The Model provides step-by-step suggestions for every stage of a domestic violence case, and is distributed with the 2008 Florida Domestic Violence Benchbook. However, due to its success, it is also distributed separately. Click here for the child support section of the Domestic Violence Benchbook.
6. Helpful Resources:
- Self Help Forms – Child Support:
- Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
- Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support
- Notice of Hearing (Child Support Enforcement Hearing Officer)
- Motion to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines
- Motion for Temporary Support with Dependent or Minor Child(ren)
- Petition to disestablish paternity and/or terminate child support obligation
- Writ of Bodily Attachment (Child Support)
- Ronald H. Kauffman, To Catch a Time - sharing Deviation, Florida Bar Journal, Volume 88, No. 10, December 2014, at 32.
- Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Services.
- The Promoting Child Well-Being & Family Self-Sufficiency Fact Sheet Series discusses how and why the child support program provides innovative services to families across six interrelated areas to assure that parents have the tools and resources they need to support their children and be positively involved in raising them. The series highlights examples of the family-centered approach that child support programs are undertaking to successfully serve all 17.5 million children in the program, representing one in four children in the country.
- Glossary of Common Child Support Terms.
- The Story Behind the Numbers Fact Sheet Series takes a closer look at child support program data. This series presents the results of data analyses to better understand program performance and caseload trends. Through deeper understanding of the story behind the numbers, the series aims to inform policy and practice and strengthen program outcomes.
- Establishing child support orders based on parents’ ability to pay results in higher compliance and increased parental communication. This fact sheet highlights several evidence-based best practices to establish realistic orders, including practices promoting parental involvement. When parents are involved in setting orders and those orders are based on accurate information, they are more likely to avoid default orders and arrears.
- Child Support Guidelines: Using the IV-D Guidelines Program Webinar - Assistant Attorneys General Garcia-Solis and
Simpson of the Child Support Enforcement Bureau of the Office of the Attorney General give an one hour overview of the
Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and explain how information should be entered on the worksheet. The excel document,
developed by the Department of Revenue, can be used in all case types for determining child support. The speakers also
address time-sharing, shared parental responsibility, Social Security benefits and related issues. OSCA has applied for CJE
and CLE credits.
If you are a judicial officer and need the latest version of the excel spreadsheet to use from the bench, please contact the virtual court support at firstname.lastname@example.org.