Tampa Military Divorce Mediator

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Do I have to pay child support if I receive disability payments from the government?

One common question is whether a parent has to pay child support if the children are receiving social security payments as a result of the parent's disability.

The short answer is that social security payments do not negate the obligation to pay child support.  A disabled parent, however, does receive credit for the social security paid for the benefit of the children.  In some cases, especially where the disabled parent has no other income, these payments may actually exceed the support obligation.  The fact of the matter is that, to make any determination, you should still have a Florida family law attorney or other qualified person apply the Florida child support guidelines, properly taking into account any social security benefits paid to the children.

Under the Florida child support guidelines, social security is treated as income for purposes of calculating the parents' child support obligation.  Specifically, under section 61.30(2)(a)(8), the social security benefits are treated as income to the disabled parent.  The disabled parent, however, also receives credit for paying support equal to the amount of the social security received on behalf of the children.  In other words, the social security funds are hypothetically earned by the disabled parent and paid by that parent to the children.

This rule was established by the First District Court of Appeals in Williams v. Williams, 560 So. 2d 308 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990).  In Williams, the trial court failed to credit a disabled father for social security payments received by the mother on behalf of their three children.  The court ordered that, in addition to the disability funds the mother received directly, the father also had to pay child support out of his own disability payments.  As a result, after satisfying his child support obligations, the father had no money from which to live.  The First District found that the court erred when calculating the child support guideline amount by failing properly to account for the social security payments received by the children.

In most cases, the social security payments will exceed the disabled parent's obligation to pay support.  This is especially true where the disabled parent has no other material income.