Monday, November 26, 2012

Child Support Changes

December 1, 2012 looms at the end of the week. In December, the Florida Department of Revenue will no longer provide child support arrears information regarding injured workers. This information has been required of parties for years. The provisions of Rule 60Q6.123 require that child support arrearage information is filed with motions for approval of attorneys fees and child support. The requirement for this information is set forth below. The requirement for this information will not change December 1, 2012, but the source of SOME of the information will change from the Department of Revenue to the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims. This change will result in cost savings to the State and to the workers' compensation attorneys.

The requirements are the same for settlements under Section 440.20(11)(a) or (b), F.S., (unrepresented claimants) and represented claimants under Section 440.20(11)(c), (d), and (e), F.S. These are found in Rule 60Q6.123(1)(a)5. and Rule 60Q6.123(2)(a)6. These require that Joint Petitions for approval of settlement and Motions for Approval of Attorneys Fees and Child Support shall each include child support arrearage information. This includes a "status statement from the Department of Revenue, unless such information is available to the OJCC directly." The status according to the county clerks is also required, "and a status statement from the Clerk of the Circuit and County Courts, Central Depository . . . from the county in which the claimant resides at the time the settlement documents are filed and the county in which the claimant resided on the date of accident."

The parallel is apparent. Child support arrearage information from the Department of Revenue is required when settling a workers' compensation case. The obligations of the Judge, when considering a settlement, include consideration of "whether the settlement allocation provides for the appropriate recovery of child support arrearages." See Fla. Stat. 440.20(11)(d).

How does this all change December 1, 2012? Substantively, nothing changes. The same information must be submitted, just as attorneys and adjusters have become accustomed. The procedure for "the Clerk of the Circuit and County Courts, Central Depository" also remains unchanged. The ONLY CHANGE, is the source of the Department of Revenue information. Until December 1, 2012, the information will be obtained from the Department of Revenue, as it has for many years. On December 1, 2012, and thereafter, this information will be obtained from the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC). 

To obtain the information, parties should electronically file a request with the OJCC. A sample form is available on the OJCC website (www.fljcc.org), on the "forms" tab. The sample form is number 23 on the list, labelled Request for Amount of Unpaid Support Owed. This form, or any form with the same information, should be electronically filed in the appropriate OJCC case. If you need this information in a workers' compensation claim for which there is no OJCC case number, you may electronically file a Request for Assignment of Case Number (RACN) first. Just log into e-JCC (http://www.fljcc.org/eJCC/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fejcc%2fDefault.aspx) and select "new case." One of the available reasons for an RACN is to request child support information.

The OJCC staff will check the child support arrearage database of the Department of Revenue, and will then file a report of the results in the OJCC case docket. One of the major advantages of this new process will be that such responses from the OJCC will be e-served to all counsel of record in the case. Prior responses, directly from the Department of Revenue, were only provided to the requesting party. This effectively encouraged multiple information requests on each case.  

The litigants should not change their practices in terms of when and why they request this information. The only change is simple. When requesting Department of Revenue arrearage information, e-file that request with the OJCC instead of faxing the request to the Department of Revenue.

If you have questions or comments, contact david_langham@doah.state.fl.us. 

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