Objective Of The Disbursement Unit
The United States Congress requires that all states process child support payments through centralized State Disbursement Units. The objective is to make processing of payments affordable, efficient and provide a single point of contact in each state for receivers of support, payers of support, and employers.
Recipients of child support can log into on central location to determine the status of their child support regardless of who is paying it. Employers who often have to manage child support deductions for many employees also send payments to the same central location.
While it can be confusing and sometimes frustrating to get everything setup initially with the FLSDU, most people (both payers and receivers of support) should find the ongoing payment processing fairly smooth and efficient.
Florida State Disbursement Unit (FLSDU)
The State of Florida has a well-run state disbursement unit which is operated by the Florida Department of Revenue. Because the Department of Revenue manages the disbursement unit, you will sometimes hear people use the terms Department of Revenue and Florida Disbursement Unit interchangeably (but they are separate State organizations).
If you need to make a child support payment, chances are your employer will receive an Income Deduction Order directing them to deduct payments from your pay and remit the money directly to the Florida State Disbursement Unit.
If you are ordered to make payments directly to the Florida State Disbursement Unit, you can do so by mail, electronic withdrawal from a bank account, credit card payment or a cash payment through a vendor such as Western Union or Amscot. Please see the Florida Department of Revenue’s website section about paying child support to the Florida State Disbursement Unit.
If you will be making payments via Income Deduction Order (IWO or IDO), then also read: Additional Tips For Making Payments By Income Deduction Order (IWO)!
Due Date – Make Sure You Understand Them
If the court order says the payment is due on a certain date (like the first of the month), it often means you are LATE if they have not received the ENTIRE payment BEFORE that date. For example, if the court order says you have a payment due on the 15th, pay the entire amount by the 14th!
The wording of each order is often different so discuss with your attorney or the Clerk Of Court to confirm if you are not sure.
Making A Payment to The Clerk Of The Court
Payments can SOMETIMES be made in person to the Clerk Of The Court in the County that the support was ordered. Please call the Clerk Of Court office if this is something you are considering to see if they will accept your payment. Be aware that there can be a short-term discrepancy in the balance of child support between the FLSDU and the Clerk Of The Court because they use different computer systems. Make sure you save proof of all payments to anyone!
If you are to receive payments through the FLSDU, the first thing you should do is setup an account as quickly as possible with them to avoid delays in receiving your payments.
It is important to understand that the Florida State Disbursement Unit does NOT send checks to you. You have the choice of having funds directly deposited into a checking or savings account or you may choose to have the money put on a re-loadable debit card. The debit card can then be used to make purchases or to withdraw money at an ATM. At the time of this writing, if you do not make an active election, the FLSDU will send you a debit card.
You can also setup your account to receive money at your local Clerk of Court (court that issued the Order). We often recommend this because the account seems to get setup quicker and more accurately than if done online. You also have someone you can speak to face-to-face if there are problems.
A Word of Caution About The FLSDU Debit Card
Be aware that the FLSDU debit card charges fees for some of things that you may not normally be accustomed to pay fees for. For example, last we looked, the FLSDU charged to make an ATM balance inquiry and to withdrawal cash from an ATM. To avoid the debit card charges, setup a checking or savings account and have your money deposited directly into your bank account. You can then access that your money with your own bank’s ATM card.
How To Contact the Florida State Disbursement Unit
Not surprising, trying to contact this organization by telephone can test your patience. We often hear of long hold times. If you have access to a computer, the easiest way to manage your child support payments is to create an account online.
Here are some helpful resources:
- Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Payment Information
- MyFloridaCounty.com Child Support information about setting up online account to pay or receive child support payments. This website is run and operated by the Florida Clerk of Courts. It provides one of the few ways that support payments can be made by credit card.
Out of State Child Support (non-Florida child support)
If you need to send or receive payments for child support to a state outside of Florida, just head over to the Office of Child Support Enforcement where they have a list of every state’s disbursement unit and contact information.