In Florida, If My Court Ordered Child Support Is Not Being Paid, What Can I Do?

Florida is a state with sincere concern for the welfare of its children. In fact, the words “In the best interest of the child” are the focus point in the Florida Statutes regarding minor children, especially when it comes to dissolution of marriage (divorce) involving minor children and child support whether the parents were ever married to each other or not. Once a court has ordered child support to be paid (by either the father or the mother) there is no way to fail to follow this order without consequence for the parent in arrears. Should the paying party become in arrears, there are definite legal steps that can be taken and if the offending party does not comply there will be serious consequences.

When this is not possible, usually for financial reasons, the Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement will handle the case, do the legal case work, and go to court before the judge. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to this approach as at any one time there are usually over 1,000 persons needing this assistance, so it will take many months before a case using this method will be heard. Additionally, the party needing help will not be able to communicate with the attorney who will represent him or her until the day of the court hearing, which won’t allow much time to share personal information helpful to the case.

A motion for contempt of court is filed to present the amount owed. Once the case for arrearages in child support is before the judge, he or she will be ordered to pay the amount owed and usually court costs as well. If this is not done in the time ordered by the judge, there are several ways the court will handle the delinquent parent until the monies owed are paid back, at least in part.

1. Intercepting Federal Income Tax refund due to the offending parent and giving it to the other parent to help reduce what is owed.
2. Cancel the passport of the parent in arrears until the full amount is paid back.
3. Garnishing the non-paying parent’s bank accounts until the money owed is paid back.
4. Suspending a driver’s license, license plate, and their car registration of the parent in arrears until at least part of the amount owed is paid back.
5. In serious cases, usually where the offending parent does not even try to pay back what is owed, that parent will be put in jail for up to 179 days, or until a substantial part of the money due is paid back.

If you are considering trying to avoid paying part or all court child support ordered in the state of Florida, don’t! If you find, for good reason, your child support payments are too much for you to handle, instead of not paying, return to court for a post-judgment modification. Here is where a judge will listen carefully to your concerns and work with you to best adjudicate the right child support for your individual situation.