Income Deduction Orders for Child Support in Florida
In this article, we’ll break down:
- Establishing an Income Deduction Order
- Enforcing an Income Deduction Order
- Interstate Orders
- Employer Obligations
Sadly, not every parent pays their child support on time. Others skip payments, and some try to get out of paying their support obligation altogether.
These delays or refusals to pay put kids at risk. When a parent who relies on child support in Florida to care for their child goes a month or more without payment, financial instability can take hold fast, and in some cases, access to essentials like food and safe housing may be threatened.
To protect a child’s right to financial support from their parents, Florida courts can establish what’s known as an income deduction order.
Income deduction orders require employers to withhold child support payments from an employee’s paycheck – without ever allowing the employee access to the funds. This lets the court channel much-needed child support to the other parent or guardian and child right away, so the child is fully supported.
Establishing an Income Deduction Order
In Florida, the court is required to issue an income deduction order for child support whenever it establishes, enforces, or modifies a support order. There are cases where the parents decide together that an income deduction order isn’t necessary. In these situations, both parties can request that income not be withheld. But in most cases, child support payments are withheld from a parent’s paycheck no differently than other payments owed, like social security and taxes.
In most cases when income deduction orders are established, they must include these specific provisions:
- Require the employer to deduct the amount of support the parent owes.
- State the amount of support owed in arrearage by the parent, if any, and deduct an additional amount from the parent’s paycheck until the arrearage is paid-in-full.
- Limit the amount of child support the employer can deduct to what’s allowed by the Consumer Credit Protection Act and/or Florida Statutes.
- Direct the employer as to whether they should deduct additional earnings, such as from employee bonuses and/or any other payments the parent may receive.
- In cases where child support payments are processed through the Title IV-D program – a program under the Social Security Act that helps to enforce support – the income deduction order must order the employer to notify the court of the date when each deduction is made.
- In Title IV-D cases, the orders must state that the parent’s support obligation ends or is reduced with the child’s emancipation, but only after any outstanding support payments still owed, If any, are paid in full. Exceptions include cases where the withholding is modified.
- State that income deduction payments are to be made directly through the SDU – the State Disbursement Unit.
- Require that the termination of child support occur on the child’s 18th birthday, unless the court applies F.S. 743.07(2) in cases where the child is dependent on the parents after a mental or physical incapacity that occurred before the child reached majority, or if the child is 18 years old and still in high school, but with a reasonable expectation of graduating before turning 19.
- Outline a schedule of the amount of monthly child support the parent will owe for any remaining children, if any, once the first child reaches majority.
- Note the month, day, and year that a reduction or termination of child support will become effective.
Once the income deduction order is established, it must be served on all parties, including but not limited to the paying-parent’s employer, and filed by the court to go into effect. You’ll also need to send copies to the Clerk of Court if payment will be submitted through the SDU, and to the Title IV-D agency if the parent’s support obligation is run through the program.
Enforcing an Income Deduction Order
If you’re the parent receiving support, you are required to serve the income deduction order and notice to the other parent’s employer. You are required to serve the employer through either certified mail with return receipt, or as described in F.S. 61.1301(2)(a). If the order is a Title IV-D case, the Department of Revenue will issue the income deduction notice.
When an income deduction order is issued, it’s almost always effective immediately. However, what if the obligor – the parent responsible for paying the support obligation – believes the order is unjust and doesn’t want to pay?
Since payment is typically due immediately, the obligor will receive a delinquency notice quickly after a missed payment. Within 15 days after being served with a delinquency notice, the parent can apply for a hearing to contest the enforcement of the income deduction. A parent can argue that there’s a mistake with the order. This could include the amount of support they owe, the amount of arrearage, any incorrect technical or personal information such as the identity of any of the parties, etc…
Whatever their reason for disagreeing with the income deduction order, the parent must submit an appropriate pleading and send it to the obligee – the parent who is receiving support – and shall also then apply for a hearing to contest the order.
Once the appropriate pleading is submitted to the court, a hearing should take place within 20 days after the application is filed. Then, within 1+0 days following the hearing, the court must decide whether the order will stand and/or otherwise resolve the dispute.
How are Income Deduction Orders Established and Enforced When One Parent Lives Out of State?
In some child support cases, one parent lives in Florida while the other parent lives out of state. In cases where child support obligations must be enforced across state lines, and the obligee is using IV-D services to enforce support payments, each state’s agency that’s responsible for enforcing income deduction orders will likely need to get involved. In Florida, the appropriate agency is the Department of Revenue.
The Florida Department of Revenue will typically work with the other state’s agency to secure court-ordered child support payments to the child and family. Enforcement across state lines can happen when the obligor – or parent who is subject to an income deduction order in another state – changes jobs.
When this occurs, it’s the responsibility of the Florida Department of Revenue to notify the agency in the other state, giving that agency the name and address of the obligee, as well as the name and address of any new payor.
Interstate income deduction orders in cases of child support are governed by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act which creates a national standard for the enforcement of child support orders between states.
Read more about The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act and Child Support Jurisdiction in Florida.
Deduction Obligations of the Employer
As we mentioned above, it’s the job of the obligee – the parent who receives support – to serve the income deduction order on the employer of the obligor. In cases where you’re utilizing a Title IV-D agency – the Department of Revenue – to enforce support payments, you’ll also need to serve the income deduction notice on that agency.
Once an employer is served with the order, they have several obligations they must fulfill to ensure income is deducted properly and the obligee receives the money they’re owed.
First, the employer must set up to deduct the correct amount from the obligor’s income. This includes the amount of support ordered by the court plus any additional income necessary to satisfy the arrearages, if any.
The first income deduction payment should be made within 14 days from the date the employer was served with the deduction notice. From there, the employer has two days to send the amount of deducted income to the State Disbursement Unit.
If the employer fails to pay the deducted income in the time allowed, they can be held liable for past-due support as well as the fees and interest associated with a late payment.
Since fulfilling the obligations of an income deduction order on behalf of an employee takes time, the Florida court gives the employer the right to charge the employee a small fee to reimburse the admin costs incurred by processing the payments. Companies can charge an employee up to $5 for the first payment and $2 for each additional payment.
The employer also must notify the obligee or agency when the obligor is no longer employed. If the company fails to do so, it can face a fine.
The employer may not discriminate against an employee and discharge them from employment because of an income deduction order. It’s also unlawful for the employer to refuse employment or take any type of disciplinary action against an employee for the same reasons. Any of these violations open the company up to a civil lawsuit.
Get the Support You Need to Enforce Child Support Payments
An experienced family law attorney can help you better understand income deduction orders in child support orders in Florida, help you through the process, and ensure your child receives the support they need. Contact us today for a free family law case evaluation. We’ll listen to your case and explain your rights. When you’re ready to work with a Florida family law and divorce lawyer to help you establish or enforce an income deduction order, fill out the form on our Contact Us page or give us a call at (954) 880-1302