Receiving Child Support and Alimony Payments

The process of receiving child support and alimony payments can vary by county and the individual circumstances of your case.  We are going to outline some general guidelines and tips to get started.  If you have specific questions or concerns, please ask your attorney or contact the Clerk of Court where your case is being handled.

The process is somewhat simple.  Essentially you have two steps:

  1. Review your documents to ensure you know what you should be getting (in detail).
  2. Open an account to receive your money (unless it is being paid directly to you).

Review Your Final Judgment and Settlement Agreement

First, be sure to thoroughly review and make sure you understand your final judgment and any settlement agreements or contracts that have been signed. These are the documents that outline the basis for the support that is being paid to you.  Key information about support that you should highlight are:

  • How much you are owed;
  • When payments are due;
  • How frequent the payments are to be made;
  • When the payments begin and when they end.

If you have multiple types of payments due to you (for child support, alimony or past-due balances), keep in mind that the payment details for each type can be different.  For example, child support may be paid weekly, alimony quarterly and past-due (arrearage) payments monthly.  They can also all begin and end on different dates.

If you have any questions, concerns or are unsure about the answers to these questions, please contact your attorney to get clarification.  If you notice any errors in your IWO, final judgment or other paperwork, now is the time to have them corrected.  It is usually easier to fix things sooner than later!

Review Income Withholding Order (if applicable)

If payments are going to be withheld from the other party by an Income Withholding Order, be sure to thoroughly read through the Income Withholding Order (IWO) and the Florida Addendum to Income Withholding Order.  Make sure you understand the documents especially the following:

  • When deductions are ordered to begin.
  • Fees that the Florida State Disbursement Unit (FLSDU) can deduct.
  • Fees an employer can charge the employee.
  • Understand the maximum amount of money the employer can withhold for support.  Even if the payor owes more, the employer has limits as to how much can be deducted from each paycheck.  This can especially impact employees who have irregular pay or work part-time.
  • Understand processing delays.  The employer has a certain number of days from the pay date to submit the money to the FLSDU.
  • Understand what happens if the payor leaves his job and what notification the employer must provide.
  • Check to make sure the IWO is consistent with the terms of the final judgment and any settlement agreement.
  • When the IWO will be served on the employer (note: the employer can’t begin withholding money until they receive proper notice of the IWO).
  • How long the employer has to implement the IWO (note: there may be a substantial delay from the time the employer receives the IWO to when the deductions begin being withheld.  For example, if the employer has 5 days to implement the IWO and the employee doesn’t get paid for another month, has two days to send the payment after the deduction, it is possible that it may take several weeks before the first deduction gets to the FLSDU).

Additional IWO Information To Consider

  • You should understand the payor’s pay cycle if you want to try to estimate the stream of payments from the employer.  Do they get paid weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. and do they get different amounts on each check?  For example, a sales person may get paid a weekly salary, but then also get a monthly, quarterly or annual bonus.  You will need this information in order to predict the stream of payments to you.
  • FLSDU Processing Delay.  The FLSDU turns payments around very quickly, but there can be a day or two delay in receiving the payment and then transferring it to your bank account (or the debit card).  The exchange of money between the accounts is not instant, but the FLSDU is actually very efficient at processing your payments!
  • Understand that the payor may have to make self-payments until the automatic deductions begin to ensure payments are made on time.
  • The first payment may be a little delayed as it can take some extra time for the FLSDU to setup your account.  Once the account is setup, payments should flow consistently.

Open An Account To Receive Your Money

If the payments were ordered to be paid to you through the Florida State Disbursement Unit (FLSDU) or the Clerk of Court, you’ll need to open an account so they know where to send  your money.

Receiving Payments Made to the Florida Disbursement Unit (FLSDU)

If the payments are being made to the Florida State Disbursement Unit (FLSDU) you can register to receive payments directly from the Florida State Disbursement Unit. Click on the “Register” button under the “Parents who are due support” section.

Your account may not be setup via the FLSDU until 7-10 days after your final judgment is ordered. If you are having problems registering because you think your account may not be setup, or you don’t know all of the information about your case, please contact your attorney’s office or the Clerk Of Court where your case is located.

Receiving Payments Made Directly To The Clerk of Court

If the payments are being made directly to the Clerk of Court, you must open your account directly with the Clerk of Court.  Note, it is unusual for the Clerk to directly collect support payments.  Usually payments will be sent through the FLSDU (above).

Support Payments Made Directly To You

If payments are to be made directly to you from the other party, you do not need to create an account (because it will be sent directly to you).  Make sure you keep accurate records of each payment made to you (date, time, amount, how it was paid, etc).