Florida Child Support and Social Security Child’s Benefits

For parents whose children are eligible for social security child benefits or if one or the other parent is receiving social security benefits or disability benefits, it’s important for your Florida family law attorney to understand how child support is calculated, the Statutes regarding Child Support in Florida as well as case law and how that has played a roll in calculating the child support you will pay or receive.

Since The Florida Child Support Guidelines and the Florida Statutes neglected to clarify these issues, the District Court of Appeals have set the tone for how children’s benefits should be handled when calculating child support obligations.

Child Support Calculations and Social Security Child Benefits

If your children are receiving Social Security Child’s Benefits the court must determine the following in order to calculate the monthly support obligation;

1. Which parent’s income will include the child’s benefits

2. If the non-disabled parent receives the child’s benefits directly, will the disabled parent receive any credits towards their child support obligation?

How Florida Trial Courts Have Handled Social Security Child Benefits and Child Support

In the past, trial courts have neglected to properly allocate the Children’s Benefits when it calculated the obligor’s child support amount. Rather, they have included the child’s benefits in the custodial parent or payee’s income when calculating support. The courts have also in the past failed to offset obligations properly for the child’s benefits or other benefits paid by Social Security.

Child support cases that ended up in appeals court rendered decisions that have set the tone for future child support cases in Florida where children’s Social Security Benefits are in question. Additionally, the appeals courts have rendered the same opinions when a parent has been receiving disability benefits and children’s benefits are being paid out.

In short, it was determined by the court of appeals that when determining “income” for the person receiving social security benefits that;

  1. The amount they receive as a benefit PLUS the amount that is actually being paid to the other parent on behalf of the children should be included as their income when determining the amount of child support that is owed.
  2. Child’s benefits paid by social security must offset the payer’s obligation, deeming the support obligation as “paid” by Social Security on the obligor’s behalf. After these calculations, any additional support owed would be the obligor’s responsibility.

Disability Benefits and Florida Child Support

It has also been determined on appeal that when a parent is receiving Social Security Disability Income due to a disability and, as a result, his or her children also receive dependent benefits, the total benefits received by or on behalf of that parent are attributed to the disabled parent as INCOME in the child support guideline calculation.

The dependent benefits are then credited toward the disabled parent’s child support obligation. However, if the child’s benefits are less than the support obligation, the disabled parent must pay the difference. If the benefits exceed the obligation amount, the benefits pay the obligation in full.  In essence a parent can ask the courts to enforce past due child support  and arrearages can legally be collected from the obligor. Any excess is simply to the benefit of the children.

See: Fourth DCA’s 2001 decision in Sealander v. Sealander
Wallace v. Dept. of Revenue

Wendy Doyle-Palumbo is a seasoned Pasco County Florida child support attorney . From her office in Hudson, Florida she represents clients in child support matters including;

Setting or Establishing Child Support – Make sure you are paying and receiving the proper amount of child support for your children. If you are unmarried, paternity must first be established. Once established the courts can set the appropriate child support obligation amount and enter an order with the courts.

Enforcement of Florida Child Support Orders – If you have a current Florida Child Support order and have not received your child, please call for a free initial consultation.

Modification of a Florida Child Support Order – You may be entitled to ask the courts for a modification of child support. Modifications can be upwards or downwards but there must be a substantial and permanent change in circumstances. If you believe you qualify for a modification of child support, or if you have questions as to whether you may have a case modify your Florida Child Support Order feel free to reach out to Family Law Attorney Wendy Doyle-Palumbo for help.

Attorney Doyle-Palumbo Child Support Attorney Hudson, FL – Jurisdictions Served: Pinellas/Pasco, Hernando, Citrus County, FL