Child Support assistance can be obtained from the Department of Revenue (DOR) in both initiating and enforcing child support in Florida. The Department of Revenue has an interest in helping caregivers obtain and enforce support because those who receive support are less likely to request or need cash assistance, food stamps and other subsidies. In fact, if you receive this type of assistance in Florida, whether you know it or not, you actually assign or give your right to child support over to the State of Florida. Yes, now it is their right to collect support, not yours.
DOR has attorneys who represent them in establishing and collecting support and these attorneys will be in Court alongside the person requesting support. But you should know they DO NOT represent that person. The attorney who is there represents DOR, NOT the parent requesting support. Neither parent is entitled to an attorney in these proceedings; therefore, if a parent wants an attorney they must hire one. See past blogs on child support for more information about why you should have an attorney.
When DOR begins the process of trying to establish support, they typically do so by sending to the parent they want to pay a "notice of proceeding to establish administrative support order" along with a blank financial affidavit. At that point the parent whom they are trying to get to pay may request IN WRITING that the matter move to an actual circuit court with a circuit court judge or may file his/her own circuit court petition (the better option IF you have a lawyer) or may send in the financial affidavit and allow the administrative court to make a decision.
Once a decision is made as to which Court (Administrative or Circuit) is going to determine the amount, a hearing takes place and an Order is entered; or, in some instances no hearing takes place and the paying parent simply receives an Order.
You should know that the amount of investigation, time, research and preparation that goes into one of these hearings in a circuit court with private attorneys is often much greater than what takes place in an administrative court or with no private attorneys. If possible, having an attorney involved in any child support matter is the way to go. In many instances, you will save or receive more money than you spend.