Serving in St Johns County, Duval County and throughout Florida
The failure to pay child support in Florida has significant legal consequences. A failure to pay can mean a contempt of court charge because you are in violation of a court order. This serious offense can involve jail time and other serious financial consequences.
Whether you need to enforce a child support order or you are having trouble making your child support payments, FLA Legal Professionals, LLC can help. We can help you make sure that your child support order is enforced or help you modify your child support order after your financial conditions have changed. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation.
Florida Child Support Establishment
You must first have a child support order signed by a judge and filed with the court to enforce a child support payment. Some couples attempt to work out an informal arrangement between the two of them, but this type of arrangement simply is not enforceable under the law.
There is no legal argument for “But the other parent said they were going to pay $300 a month!” You have to get a court order before you can force the other parent to pay child support. You can agree to an amount between the two of you, but a judge still needs to sign off on it for it to be enforceable under Florida law.
FLA Legal Professionals, LLC can help you establish this support obligation so you and your child can get the financial assistance that you need.
Filing a Motion for Civil Contempt
When someone violates a court order, they can be found in contempt of court. This basically means that the court told them to do something, but they did not do it. Although most people think of this concept as being criminal, it can occur in civil cases (like family law) as well.
The most common way that child support orders are enforced is by filing a motion for civil contempt. You prove your motion, you must offer proof of the following:
- You have a valid child support order under Florida law that has been approved and signed by a judge
- The other parent has not paid child support as directed by that order
- The other parent has the ability to pay the child support, but they are not
To combat this type of claim, the other parent may attempt to argue that he or she does not have the ability to pay. They might also argue that the child support order is invalid in some way.
Collecting Back-Due Child Support
Once you have proven your case, the judge will issue an order directing the other parent on how to pay for the back-due child support. This could involve:
- Establishing a payment plan
- Withholding a certain amount from their wages
- Placing liens on their vehicles and force their sale
- Claiming and selling the parent’s abandoned or unused property
- Placing liens on their real property or other personal property and force their sale
- Freezing home equity lines of credit
Some of these options are only available if the parent owes over a certain amount, usually $500 to $600.
Consequences for Failing to Pay Child Support
If you or the other parent has failed to pay child support, there can be grave consequences. Florida is especially strict on violations of child support compared to other states.
It is not like failing to pay a monthly bill—it is a direct violation of a court order. Punishments can include:
- Suspension of driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations
- Seizing income tax refund
- Seizing or freezing money directly from bank accounts
- Wage garnishment
- Jail or prison time (up to one year)
- Reporting to the consumer reporting agencies (which affects the parent’s credit score)
- Passport revocation for large past-due amounts
The court can also order that the parent pay the custodial parent for the costs and fees associated with bringing the contempt proceeding. This includes travel and witness costs in some situations as well.
The consequences are more severe when the parent deliberately chooses not to pay child support. If, however, the parent cannot afford the child support due to a change in employment or other financial circumstances, then he or she may be able to explain this change to the court to have their child support obligation modified.
Enforcing Child Support in Florida
FLA Legal Professionals, LLC can help you enforce your child support order if another parent is behind on their obligations. We will often work with Florida Child Support Enforcement to be sure that you have comprehensive enforcement options available to you. We know how important your child support is to you and your family—and we can help.