Child Support Enforcement
The Judicial Hearing Officer Department for the Eighth Judicial Circuit has been in operation since December of 1989. Growing out of the foresight of the Bench, the Department was created to increase the efficient operation of the courts by quickly and efficiently addressing an ever expanding category of family law cases. The Judicial Hearing Officer (JHO) Department is responsible for addressing cases in three major circuit civil areas. The first area involves Establishment, which is the taking of evidence associated with the establishment of paternity and/or child support. The second involves Modification, customarily increasing, decreasing, or modifying present child support and benefit orders. The third area is Enforcement, which entails compliance with final judgments of divorce and child support. Enforcement is accomplished through the use of civil contempt powers, and the assessment of purge-payments and/or jail time.
The full-time and part-time Hearing Officers currently operate under grant funding, with sixty-six percent of the funding contributed by the Federal Government (Health and Human Services) through the Florida State Department of Revenue via a contract with the Office of the State Court Administrator, while the remaining thirty-four percent is derived from State funds appropriated by the Legislature.
The Northern Region JHO services Baker, Bradford, and Union Counties from its headquarters in the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke. The Western Region JHO is headquartered in the Levy County Courthouse in Bronson and serves Gilchrist and Levy Counties.
Accomplishments of the JHO during 2010 include: an average of $2.8 million dollars per month collected circuit-wide from child support payments, a steady and sustained improvement in the case management of all DOR/CSE divisions, an increase in the number of arrests for non-compliance, resulting in an increase in the average length of jail sentences served, with a predictable corresponding increase in the number of full purges paid after the successful execution of WBAs (arrest warrants).
In 2010, the JHO Department addressed approximately 7,680 cases. Additionally, the constant pressure of new and reopened cases has created the necessity for separate, sustained case management/status conference dockets used by each Judicial Hearing Officer to pro-actively address and clear older/back-logged cases.
All Hearing Officers are active in their communities throughout the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and are frequently invited to speak at public schools and various civil/legal professional activities, as well as serve on innovative circuit-and-statewide legal/justice improvement committees.
The multi-faceted JHO Department is comprised of six employees: one full-time Administrative Director/Hearing Officer, one full-time DOR/CSE Hearing Officer, one part-time DOR/CSE Hearing Officer, two full-time Administrative Assistants and one part-time Administrative Assistant.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I reduce my child support?
Hire an attorney or packets are available to Modify Child Support, and file the appropriate documents and send notice to the other party.
Why is the child support being taken out of my paycheck when the other parent placed our child/ren with me?
If a Modification for the child/ren home base was not filed to inform the court of changes in the household, the court does not modify your case. After correctly filing the proper petition to modify the home base, the court will hear the litigant's case and make changes as the court sees fit.
S/He is not paying his court ordered child support. What can I do?
After correctly filing the proper motion to enforce, the case will be heard by the Judge.
I missed my Child Support hearing and now there is a warrant out for my arrest.
For an Alachua County case, contact the office of the Child Support Hearing Officer at (352) 374-3662. For a case in Gilchrist or Levy Counties, call the office of the Child Support Hearing Officer at (352) 486-5382; for a case in Baker, Bradford or Union Counties, call the office of the Child Support Hearing Officer at (904) 966-6319.
My child has turned 18, can I just stop paying child support?
Child support payments do not stop automatically on the child's 18th birthday. The Court must be petitioned to stop child support payments. Forms are available in the Murphree Law Library.
Child Support Resources
- Florida Department of Revenue (DOR)
- Florida DOR - Child Support
- Alachua County Clerk's Office
- Florida Statutes - Online
- Florida Statutes - Chapter 39: Proceedings Relating to Children
- Florida Statutes - Chapter 61: Dissolution of Marriage; Support; Time-Sharing
- Alachua County Sheriff's Office
- Alachua County - Department of the Jail