Occasionally, individuals engaged in child support arrangements may not fulfill their support obligations. Individuals can become delinquent on their child support payments for a number of reasons ranging from financial instability to disagreements over whether the support order is equitable.
Whether you're the payor or recipient, knowing what penalties are associated with child support delinquency in FL can help you take the appropriate steps to ensure your child receives the support they need to thrive.
What Happens When Someone Can't Pay for Child Support in Florida?
An individual who refuses to comply with child support orders issued by a court may suffer legal penalties. Courts take child support delinquency seriously, since missed child support payments can affect the quality of a child's life.
If someone refuses to pay their child support obligation, their co-parent can file a motion for civil contempt against the delinquent payor. To file a motion for civil contempt, the other parent must:
- Have a valid child support order issued by the court;
- Be able to prove that the other parent has missed child support payments, and;
- Be able to prove the other parent has the means to provide child support yet chooses not to do so.
If the court approves a motion for civil contempt, the judge will issue an order to collect the delinquent child support.
Judges can take the following measures to force a parent to pay for missed child support payments:
- Set up a payment plan for the delinquent parent;
- Garnish their paychecks to repay missed child support;
- Intercept tax refunds to repay missed support (this also applies to government stimulus checks);
- Garnish lottery winnings;
- Garnish financial accounts if the delinquent parent owes $600 or four months of missed support;
- Place liens on property like the delinquent parent's vehicle or estate;
- Claim and sell the payor's property;
- Claim Worker's Compensation from the payor;
- Incarcerate the delinquent parent until they pay their child support dues.
Florida Child Support Enforcement (CSE) can also impose further measures to acquire missed child support, including:
- Checking financial institutions to verify whether a delinquent parent has the ability to pay for child support;
- Revoking the payor's driver's license or registration until they repay missed support;
- Suspending the payor's professional licenses until they pay overdue support;
- Reporting the delinquent to consumer reporting agencies, hurting their credit score;
- Ordering the US Department of State to revoke the payor's passport;
- Freezing the delinquent's financial accounts if they're behind by $600 or four months on their support order.
Typically, the court will try to take actions it feels are fair and align with the payor's financial circumstances. For example, if the payor is delinquent due to financial difficulties, the court may try to establish a payment plan. In contrast, if the payor simply refuses to pay their child support obligation out of spite, the court may impose harsher penalties on them.
I'm Delinquent on Child Support—What Should I Do?
If you miss a child support payment, the first thing you should do is contact the court that issued the child support order and Florida Child Support Enforcement and inform them of your situation.
Many people fall behind on child support due to a downturn in financial circumstances, not because they want to deprive their child of resources. If a lack of financial stability prevents you from making child support payments, the Florida CSE and court may work with you to establish a repayment program that helps you catch up. The court may also issue an order modification, reducing your child support burden to reflect your current circumstances more accurately.
The sooner you contact officials to notify them of your delinquency and provide them with information about why you're struggling to pay child support, the better.
At Conti Moore Law, PLLC, we work with clients to help them secure delinquent child support and establish equitable child support arrangements.
To schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about how we can help you succeed, contact us online or via phone at (407) 315-2006.