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What Happens if I Miss ONE Court-Ordered Child Support Payment?

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Just about everyone knows that missing a single car payment or a single mortgage payment can result in unpleasant consequences. When it comes to child support payments, however, it’s a different ballgame. After all, the law places significant value on the well-being of children. There are ways to mitigate the damage, however.

Consequences You Might Face for Missing a Child Support Payment

You are unlikely to face all of the following consequences. You could face more than one of them, however.  A lot depends on your perceived attitude and your past payment history.

The following are potential consequences for missing a child support payment: 

  • Florida imposes interest charges on unpaid child support. Florida family law determines the precise interest rate. It is applied to the missed payment, compounding the debt owed. This could spell financial disaster over time.
  • The Florida Department of Revenue relies on aggressive enforcement tactics:
  • The state can garnish your paycheck by directing your employer to deduct the amount you owe directly from your paycheck.
  • The state can place liens on your property and freeze your bank accounts.
  • Florida can even intercept your lottery winnings.
  • The government can suspend your driver’s license. It can suspend other licenses as well, such as hunting licenses, fishing licenses, boating licenses, etc.
  • You may experience future difficulty modifying child custody in your favor.
  • You could be found in contempt of court, particularly if the judge believes your non-payment is willful.
  • Criminal non-support is a crime. This crime is most likely to be charged if you leave the state to avoid paying overdue child support.

You are unlikely to face the more serious of the foregoing penalties if you display a cooperative attitude and do not miss payments repeatedly.

Proactive Steps to Address Missed Payments

If you have only missed one payment, or if you are anticipating missing a payment, you need to consider some proactive moves. In other words, you need to go on the offensive, even if it is only a charm offensive. 

Here are some relatively active measures you can take:

  • Reach out to the relevant authorities. Contact the office responsible for handling child support payments where you live. Preferably, establish contact before you have missed your first payment. 
  • Explain your circumstances. You may be able to negotiate temporary adjustments. Your case will be especially persuasive if you can present evidence of financial hardship or unexpected unemployment that is not your fault.
  • Ask for a review of your payment plan. You will probably have to show proof of your current financial status. Your goal should be to negotiate a more realistic payment plan that reflects your actual ability to pay.
  • Consult a lawyer. Engage a family lawyer who specializes in family law; many offer free initial consultations. 
  • Petition the court for modification of your child support obligations. If your financial situation has changed substantially (e.g., you lost your job, you suffered medical problems or expensive medical bills), you might be able to petition the court to modify your child support order.

Never forget that your child support obligations are designed for the welfare of your children. If people involved in your situation can sense the sincerity of your intentions, they might offer you solutions that are more accommodating.

Talk to a Lawyer as Soon as Possible if You Miss a Child Support Payment

It’s tempting to say, “Don’t delay contacting a lawyer if you anticipate missing even a single child support payment.” But how can you pay a lawyer if you can’t pay your child support payments? It’s a real dilemma, that’s for sure. 

Nevertheless, some lawyers offer low-cost consultations or pro bono (free of charge) services. Other lawyers offer sliding scale fees that vary depending on your income. You could explore one of these options or perhaps legal aid services. If you hire a lawyer, don’t be afraid to speak candidly with them because your candor is what they will need to help you. Attorney-client privilege and the attorney’s obligation of confidentiality prevent the disclosure of anything confidential you say to your lawyer.

Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today

For more information, contact our experienced Orlando child support lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC by calling (407) 831-0203 to schedule a free consultation.

Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803
United States

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