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Learning the details about child support

When families in Florida first get involved with child support, they may be confused by the terminology and not understand exactly how the system works. However, child support is a fact of life for many families because non-custodial parents are responsible for providing financial support for their kids. August marks Child Support Awareness Month, an initiative designed to bring attention to the systems and processes that make sure this support is a reality for children.

In order to establish child support in a particular case, the child's parentage must be determined. Maternity can be established through records that the mother gave birth to the child. On the other hand, there are a few different ways to establish paternity. If the mother was married when the child was born, the husband is presumptively the child's father. Unmarried fathers can also sign affidavits of paternity at any time after the birth. When paternity is in dispute or doubt, however, the parents can request DNA testing to determine whether a person is the child's father. If the DNA tests show a 99 percent probability of fatherhood, a paternity order will be issued.

The amount of child support that a non-custodial parent must pay is based on state guidelines. These guidelines consider the parent's income, number of children and other objective factors in order to set a monthly amount owed. When a non-custodial parent fails to comply with his or her child support obligations, his or her income can be garnished.

Sometimes, a non-custodial parent's financial status can change significantly after an initial child support order is entered. In this case, the parent can work with a family law attorney to seek a child support modification in court. By modifying the order to one that reflects the new financial situation, a parent can uphold his or her obligations without breaking the bank.

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