Lakeland Child Support Lawyer

The Lakeland, Florida, child support attorneys at O’Mara Law Group can help parents establish child support plans, modify existing plans, or take action over failure to pay child support. Child support is a legal obligation in Florida with significant legal consequences for those who don’t pay.

Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara

Content last updated on: April 3, 2024

Child support is a legal obligation in Lakeland, Florida, but identifying the right payment amount and ensuring the responsible parent makes regular child support payments can be challenging. 

The child support attorneys at O’Mara Law Group have over 35 years of experience helping parents in central Florida navigate the legal complexities of calculating fair child support payments, modifying existing payment agreements, and enforcing payments from those reluctant to pay. 

If you need to consult with a child support lawyer, Lakeland, Florida, is home to the offices of the O’Mara Law Group. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help with your child support needs.

Child Support Agreement

What is child support?

Child support is an obligatory monthly payment one parent makes to another to help cover the daily living expenses of raising a child. When two parents in Florida do not share a household, one of the parents is designated as the “custodial parent.” 

The parent receiving child support payments is typically the one at whose home the child spends a greater amount of time. 

However, child support is required in nearly every child custody agreement, including cases in which the child spends equal time at each parent’s home. In this case, the higher-earning parent usually pays child support. 

When parents have never dealt with child support before, they often ask what child support is and whether it counts as income. Confusion often arises about what a child support payment should be used for and whether it should go directly to the child or the parent. 

Child support payments go directly to the parent and are intended to be used to cover costs of living. The money in a child support payment can be used toward rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries, and other expenses. 

Child support is legally required in all custody agreements, regardless of whether a child’s parents are divorced, separated, or were never married. Because child support can be complex, it is helpful to work with a child support lawyer in Lakeland, Florida, to understand your options and obligations.

Does child support count as income?

It is common for parents to wonder if child support counts as income. The answer is no. Child support does not count as a form of income in Florida. The money paid or received through child support cannot be claimed on taxes, and it is not tax-deductible. 

Child support is not a form of income because the money contained in a child support payment is already taxed income earned by a parent. 

While filing Florida taxes, parents should not claim child support as a form of income, or they will end up paying unnecessary taxes on income that was already taxed when earned by the paying parent. The legal requirement of child support simply ensures that a specified portion of a parent’s taxable income is spent on supporting the child. 

Florida’s income shares model for child support is created to ensure the amount of money parents spend on a child is similar to what would have been spent if they shared a household. This model’s goal is to raise the standard of living for children whose parents live in different households. 

How is child support calculated in Lakeland, Florida?

The state of Florida follows the income shares model. This method of calculating child support takes into account the income of both parents and factors in other considerations like the cost of health insurance, childcare, special accommodations, and the number of nights the child spends in each parent’s home. 

The child support amount is calculated based on these factors. The calculations involved in identifying a fair child support payment using Florida’s child support guidelines worksheet can be complicated. Many parents prefer to work with a child support attorney so payments are calculated correctly. 

A child support lawyer in Lakeland, Florida, can make sure that a parent is not under- or overpaying on the child support amount they are legally obligated to provide.

prisoner to his jail cell

Can you go to jail for not paying child support?

Sometimes, the parent ordered to pay child support falls behind on payments. Usually, this happens for two reasons: a change in income or expenses that make meeting an existing payment impossible or the intentional refusal to pay. 

Whatever the reason, when a child support payment obligation is not being met, either parent may wonder if someone can go to jail for not paying child support.

In Florida, you can go to jail for a failure to pay child support. Child support delinquency can even become felony charges. However, the parent gets several chances to catch up on payments before this happens. 

If meeting an existing payment agreement is impossible due to a change in income, you can request a modification to your child support to reduce the amount you owe. 

Working with an attorney can increase your chances of modifying your child support payments. If you do not meet modified payment conditions, paying something—even if it is less than the required amount—shows that you are attempting to meet your obligations. This effort can help you avoid further penalties. 

However, Florida courts don’t look kindly on parents who intentionally withhold money meant to support their child. Failure to pay child support can bring consequences including:

Ongoing refusal to make child support payments can lead to child support delinquency charges. Over time, you could even face felony charges if you: 

Ignoring court-ordered child support payments comes with serious legal consequences. If you face legal trouble over a failure to make your child support payments, you should speak with a child support lawyer. 

Lakeland, Florida, is home to the offices of O’Mara Law Group, and our child support attorneys can advise you on what steps to take to avoid further legal consequences.

How a Lakeland Child Support Attorney Can Help

Three primary reasons to work with a child support lawyer are:

Every aspect of a child support plan involves legal proceedings and complex paperwork. In nearly every case, working with a child support attorney helps streamline the process and increases your chances of getting the results you hope to achieve. 

Child support can be stressful and complicated, but it is easier when you work with an experienced child support lawyer. 

The O’Mara Law Group in Lakeland, Florida, has a team of child support attorneys with over 35 years of experience helping parents calculate fair child support and take action on delinquent child support payments. 

For more information on how a child support lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can help you, contact us today.

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(863) 603-3206

500 Florida Ave S
Suite 407
Lakeland, FL 33801

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