Different Flavors of Child Support
Whether you are paying or receiving child support, it is beneficial to have an attorney review your case and the numbers to ensure everything is done right and the amount is not incorrect for 18 years. Though there is only one of you paying and one of you receiving, it is not unusual for there to be a third party involved in your child support case. Often the State of Florida takes an interest in your support, also known as the Department of Revenue, or sometimes just the Child Support Office, for Short. This third party has deep pockets, always walks in with an attorney, and usually gets what it wants... which is typically beneficial if you are the one receiving support. But always keep in mind that their attorney never represents a parent and even if you are receiving support, your interests aren't always the same.
Here is how it works... Child Support can be imposed by three different entities: Administrative, Circuit (CHO), or Circuit (Judge):
Administrative: This is the most common way to impose child support. One parent goes to the child support office, the state sends out paperwork -- BOOM! Child support. That is the entire process in a nutshell, but even as part of this process, you can request to go in front of an administrative judge and you can have an attorney representing you. If you realize what is happening soon enough, you can also have the case transferred to real court.
Circuit (CHO): The Child Support Hearing Officer only hears child support cases, so this person is an expert and completely understands the process and all the excuses people have and make for wanting more support or to pay less support. Talk to your lawyer about the advantages and disadvantages of being able to get support awarded in real court vs. administratve court.
Circuit (Judge): This would be the equivilant of the full service offering as the circuit bench has the jurisdiction to handle all the issues related to your children. Perhaps you want to go to court for more than just support. If so then it is worth the time to discuss with your lawyer the advantages of filing your support case in the circuit court.
How much will it cost?
Legal fees for all cases can vary depending on how long they last, how aggressive the parties get, how often the lawyers need to intervene to facilitate communication, and of course how letigious each party is. The hourly rate is $300 and the total number of hours is unknown. In addition to this, you will be responsible for filing fees for the initial pleadings; and the fees of anyone else hired for your case including the mediatior, court reporters, process servers, interpretters, etc.. Typically, you will pay an initial retainer fee to start the case and a smaller monthly payment plan after that, rather continuing to receive large monthly bills.