Yes, Florida is one of only a handful of states that has on several occasions allowed an inheritance to be used to fund child support obligations. One state court has even compared an inheritance as being similar to “lottery” winnings. Here’s a workbook used by judges and attorneys, in deciding what assets are subject to child support: http://www. acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/essentials_for_attorneys_ch09.pdf . On page 105 of that booklet, you’ll also learn why Florida can present some challenges to your child’s claim to part of a parent’s inheritance.
Since an inheritance may increase the parent’s ability to pay support, you might also be seeking not only past due support, but for an increase in support (so you might be seeking a deviation from the standard support guidelines—and here are the guidelines for support payments http://dor.myflorida .com /dor/ childsupport/guidelines.html — if the inheritance is a lot of money). Here’s the actual form asking for an increase: http://www.fl courts.org/gen_public/family/forms_rules/905b.pdf. But if other children have been born to the non-custodial parent since the original order, Florida might be very reluctant to allow the increase/deviation.
There can be some limits on getting part of an inheritance, however, based on what type of valuable asset is being inherited. Your winning argument will be by showing the inheritance should be treated as income. But before looking at the specific argument of using inheritance for child support, I have a couple of other questions: 1. Have you already gotten court or state ordered support for your child? Here is a chart of the process: http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/report /2006_2007/pdf/cse_establishing0607.pdf. And 2. D you need any legal representation for the case?
1. I’m not sure “where” you are in the support process. Many times, people have entered into voluntary support payments. You didn’t mention if you’d already gotten a court order. Here’s information on filing for child support orders and enforcement. From a court: http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/family/forms _rules/index.shtml#902. From the state support enforcement agency: http://dor.myflorida.com/dor /childsupport/apply.html.
2. If you would like to see about low-cost, affordable legal representation, you can try applying based on income: http://www.floridalegal.org/. The Florida bar also may be able to qualify you for an affordable (or even free) lawyer through their Pro Bono effort: http://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBConsum.nsf/840090C 16EEDAF0085256B61000928DC/A99E4C9F07844AC385256FF90073D012.
From here, I’m assuming you do have a court order for enforcement already. If you need to go into court to enforce a prior court order for support (or for contempt for his failing to pay), here’s the form: http://www.fl courts.org/gen_public/family/forms_rules/960.pdf. You’ll want to file in the same court that issued the original order.
Other Court Decisions: Inheritance As Income?
One interesting court case has looked at the way someone received their inheritance, too. It has happened in this major California case that the inheritance award was written in such a way as to try to avoid being subject to past child support orders. It was a case where the will’s language was changed shortly before the parent died. Here’s that case: http://www. leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=200731169CalRptr3d242_ 1283.xml&docbase=CSLWAR3-2007-CURR. You can actually ask for a lien on the inheritance, and try to see if there was an attempt to keep the inheritance from being used to pay past support. This can be done under Florida law since your child has an interest (an “interested person”) in finding our whether or not the inheritance is affecting the support payments: http://www.flsenate.gov/laws /statutes/2011/731.201.