Amended Florida Family Law Form 12.996(a) clears up confusion about existing federal and Florida income deduction orders (IDOs) and notices.
Use the amended form in both Title IV-D and non-Title IV-D cases. Get the new form (updated as of October 2021) here (pdf).
Options for Deductions
Florida Family Law Form 12.996(a) includes options for deducting alimony and child support:
- Ongoing child support
- Retroactive child support
- Child support arrears
- Bridge-the-gap alimony
- Rehabilitative alimony
- Durational alimony
- Permanent alimony
- Retroactive alimony
- Alimony arrears
Multiple Children: Include Schedule Child Support Ends for Each Child
If the IDO addresses child support for multiple children, complete the schedule to show:
- the amount of child support for all the minor children at the time of the entry of the income deduction order
- the amount of child support for any remaining children after one or more of the children are no longer entitled to receive child support.
Show the day, month, and year child support terminates for each minor child.
The termination date should be the child’s 18th birthday unless the court has found that section 743.07(2), Florida Statutes, regarding dependent children, applies, or the parents have agreed to a different date.
Child Support: Also Complete Federal IWO Form
For income deduction for child support, the federal government, under sections 466(a)(1), (a)(8) and 466 (b)(6)(A)(ii) of the Social Security Act, requires that states use an Income Withholding Order (IWO). Therefore, in Florida child support cases, attach the federal Income Withholding for Support Form (IWO) as a notice to Form 12.996(a) IDO.
Income Deduction and Withholding Orders Mandated
Section 61.1301(1)(a), Florida Statutes mandates the court to enter an income deduction order.
Upon entry of an order establishing, enforcing, or modifying an obligation for alimony, child support, or alimony and child support, other than a temporary order, the judge “shall enter a separate order for income deduction if one has not been entered.” Section 61.1301(1)(a), Florida Statutes.
Regarding arrearages, section 61.1301(1)(b)2, Florida Statutes requires an income deduction order:
“State the amount of arrearage owed, if any, and direct a payor to withhold an additional 20 percent or more of the periodic amount specified in the order establishing, enforcing, or modifying the obligation, until full payment is made of any arrearage, attorney’s fees and costs owed, provided no deduction shall be applied to attorney’s fees and costs until the full amount of any arrearage is paid.”
A judge who doesn’t comply faces reversal. See Carlson v. Frengut, Case No. 4D21-1600 (Fla. 4th DCA Sep 14, 2022); Seith v. Seith, 337 So. 3d 21 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022); Dorsett v. Dorsett, 902 So. 2d 947 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).
Parties may exercise their freedom to contract and agree to direct payments of support, rather than by IDO. For example, in Johnson v. Johnson, Case No. 5D21-621 (Fla. 5th DCA November 4, 2022), the parents agreed dad would pay child support and alimony directly to mom. While they couldn’t contract away their child’s right to support, they could make contracts or agreements on child support if they serve their child’s best interests. Lester v. Lester, 736 So. 2d 1257 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999).
A problem for dad in Johnson wasn’t that the parents agreed to override the mandatory income deduction language of the IDO statute. Mom said he failed to abide strictly by the agreement. She said he was late on support and shorted her. The trial judge had to consider her request for dad to pay future support by IDO.
Courts have an independent duty to make sure such agreements do serve the child’s best interests.
When Do Income Deduction Orders Take Effect?
Income deduction orders take effect immediately. But the court, for good cause, may finds the IDO takes effect upon a delinquency in an amount specified by the court not more than one month’s payment.
To find good cause, the court must, at minimum:
- Explain why implementing immediate income deduction wouldn’t be in the child’s best interest;
- Find proof of timely payment of the previously ordered obligation without an IDO in modification cases; and
Find there’s an agreement by the parent who owes support to advise the IV-D agency and court depository of any change in payor and health insurance; orFind there’s a signed agreement providing an alternative arrangement between the obligor and the obligee and, at the option of the IV-D agency, by the IV-D agency in IV-D cases in which there is an assignment of support rights to the state, reviewed and entered in the record by the court.