There should never be any question that a child’s needs take precedence in any family law case. This is particularly vital to navigating child support matters. Indeed, in recent years, Florida has been prioritizing an ostensibly more equitable approach to determining the division of child support payments. When applied effectively, this tends to be a positive way to ensure a child’s ongoing welfare.
However, there are certain cultural nuances that can still affect how child support is paid. While the traditional roles of men as breadwinners and women as homemakers no longer really apply, there are sometimes quite persistent gender-based assumptions in family law cases. Generally, the popular cultural view is that fathers pay child support and women receive it. This is both incorrect and an unhelpful — even harmful — stereotype. If a man continues believing this is how things should be or courts make decisions based on this assumption, it may present hurdles to making certain children receive adequate resources from both parents.
So, can a man put a woman on child support? The short answer is yes, he can. But there are various factors to consider and cultural challenges to navigate. Let’s dive a little deeper into this issue and how it affects fathers’ abilities to get a fair outcome in Florida family law cases.
Understanding Child Support Laws
Put simply, Florida's child support laws are designed to ensure that children receive financial support from both parents. The parent’s gender doesn’t tend to come into the matter. These laws are intended to put the interests of the child first, above all else. Furthermore, they help to establish what makes a fair and equitable division of financial responsibilities for each parent.
In fact, the main factor in determining child support in Florida doesn’t have anything to do with the gender of either parent. Rather, the formula looks at the combined income of both parents. It then considers how many children require support from the parents. Additionally, the court considers other expenses such as healthcare, daycare, and insurance costs.
Parenting time is an influential factor in the determination of child support, too. The number of overnights the child spends with each parent directly affects the financial obligations of each parent. This basically recognizes that the custodial parent may be incurring greater child-related expenses than the non-custodial parent.
Why does the court take all these elements into account?
The state utilizes the Income Shares model of child support calculation. Effectively, this means that the shared children should benefit from both parents’ resources in the same way they would if the separation hadn’t occurred. This makes certain all essential needs are met and the costs divided appropriately.
What does this mean when a man is seeking support from a woman?
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this is it means child support obligations aren’t purely on the non-custodial parent. Each parent has a financial role to play. This means that either parent can initiate the child support process. If the father is awarded primary custody he can arrange for the state to request child support from the mother. Similarly — though less common — if there isn’t a formal child support arrangement in place and the non-custodial father feels he is shouldering too much of the financial burden, he can file a claim to ensure a fair division between both parents.
Gender in Child Support
So, why is the ability of a man to claim child support in question at all? Well, traditional gender roles often portray men as the primary financial providers, with women seen as the custodial caregivers. This certainly doesn’t reflect the reality of custody today. Nevertheless, such outdated gender issues can still have an impact on custody and child support matters.
Even among today’s more progressive attitudes to gender, Florida is often known as the “mother state” when it comes to family law matters. This doesn’t mean that, as a father, you’re guaranteed to face discrimination in a custody or child support case. Nevertheless, long-held unconscious and conscious biases related to traditional gender roles may well factor into decisions that are made and how Florida child support law is applied.
Not to mention that you’re navigating a system that has generally been geared toward mothers as the recipients of child support. You just have to look at the Florida Department of Revenue’s child support website for some evidence of this. The language used is geared toward “enforce child support or paternity” with no specific mention of holding mothers to account.
This is why it is so vital to collaborate with an experienced Florida family law attorney if you’re a man seeking to put a woman on child support. If you’re not expecting any pushback from the mother, it may well be practical to independently go through the Florida Department of Revenue’s child support claim system. However, if there are disputes involved or the matter is likely to be complex, an aggressive lawyer who frequently represents men in such cases is a powerful tool to prevent potential bias in a ruling.
That said, the progression towards gender neutrality in Florida’s child support laws is still a positive step (HB 1301 is a good example of this). It suggests that the state is seeking a fairer and more inclusive family law system. With strict legislation in place, cooperative families, and legal professionals pushing for fair standards, there’s an opportunity for children to benefit from a more equitable approach to child support determination.
Legal Procedure for Initiating Child Support Against a Woman
So, how does a man start a child support claim against a woman? It shouldn’t surprise you to know that there is almost no difference to when a woman places a claim against a man. Indeed, generally speaking, it can be simpler. This is because there are few occasions in which tests to establish maternity are required, as there are usually already extensive records relating to pregnancy and birth that are connected to the mother.
The procedure for requesting child support from a mother tends to run as follows:
Filing a claim for child support with the Florida Department of Revenue: This can be done online or your lawyer can help by filing on your behalf. In effect, you’ll be providing the basic information relating to your claim for support.
Further information provision: If the Department of Revenue requires further information to enable your case to proceed they will contact you to request this.
Filing financial affidavits: The child support calculation will be based on both parents’ relative income and expenses. Therefore, each tends to be expected to provide the court with a comprehensive financial affidavit detailing these elements fully and honestly.
Child support hearing scheduling: The relevant local family court will contact both parties to provide a date for the child support hearing. In some instances this will be in person. However, it is increasingly common for such hearings to be performed remotely by video conferencing.
Child support hearing: The hearing will revolve around the judge or other official reviewing the relevant documents related to the case. This will also be an opportunity for you, the mother, and your respective lawyers to present further arguments and requests related to the case. This tends to run more smoothly if both parties are willing participants in the matter.
Child support ruling: The judge in the case will outline the terms of child support for both parties. Alternatively, they may set a date for a further hearing if additional information is required.
Call The Family Law Attorneys Men Trust (813) 415-3510
In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers is a premier firm of divorce lawyers representing men in family law proceedings. We have years of experience representing men who are navigating child support challenges, including claiming against mothers. Our team’s experience and skills help to guide our clients through the hurdles of the Florida family law courts. Call us today and get the proper representation men need and deserve.
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