How Disability Benefits Factor Into Child Support
There are a few maxims in life that almost everyone is familiar with. Don’t eat yellow snow, three’s a crowd (unless you’re into that sort of thing) and Florida support obligations are derived from guidelines based on the parents’ combined net income. Okay so the third principle may not be as widely recognized as the first two, but if you or anyone you know is facing a situation where child support is an issue, you best believe you’ll soon be on it like white on rice (see what I did there? Yeah, I know you see me).
Seems pretty simple right? Unfortunately, so does betting a successful parlay or meeting someone on the internet who doesn’t give you the rational fear of being chopped up and fed to one of his or her fourteen cats. The trouble with calculating child support is defining income. “Income” is defined under statute as any form of payment to an individual, regardless of source, including, but not limited to: wages, salary, commissions and bonuses, compensation as an independent contractor, workers’ compensation, disability benefits, annuity and retirement benefits, pensions, dividends, interest, royalties, trusts, and any other payments, made by any person, private entity, federal or state government, or any unit of local government. Say whaaat?! For purposes of this post and avoiding an onslaught of information bound to give even the Dalai Llama an anxiety attack, let’s focus on disability benefits.
Disability Benefits Application to Child Support
The general rule that applies with respect to social security disability benefits is that the nature of the benefits must be examined to determine from whose disability the benefits flow. Only SSDI benefits received because of a party’s disability and the dependent benefits that accompany it are considered income attributable to the parent in the support calculation. If disability benefits stem from a disabled child, the benefits are generally not included in the parents income for the determination of child support. Any amount received on behalf of the child as a result of the parents disability is a direct reduction from the guideline computation and a direct credit against the payors obligation. If the benefits are less than the support obligation, the disabled parent must pay the difference. If they are more, the disability benefits pay the obligation in full, but any excess inures to the benefit of the child. Further, while disability benefits may be considered as source for payment of alimony, they are not subject to equitable distribution.
Feel like someone just gave you a bunch of popsicle sticks and told you to recreate the Parthenon? Determining a party’s income and calculating a support obligation can be a far more involved and complicated process than it seems. For any case involving disability benefits, contact a child support attorney before making your next move.