When a court orders a parent to pay child support, he or she must do so. It's the law. Unfortunately, that doesn't prevent many parents from falling behind or otherwise violating the child support order.
If you are the recipient of the child support payment, you should contact Veliz Katz Law if you live in or around Orlando, Florida. Child support violations are serious – they can upend your finances and the wellbeing of your child. Consequences for the parent in violation are also serious. Here's an overview of what you should know, but contact us to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options in your specific case.
What are Child Support Violations in Florida?
Child support violations occur when a person ordered by a court does not pay child support timely. It could involve one missed payment or it could be a pattern of not paying timely or at all. Any missed payment or delayed payment is a violation of a court order to pay child support.
Not paying child support is a serious matter and can lead to serious consequences. Regardless of whether or not the parent paying child support lives in Florida or whether the receiving parent lives in Florida, child support must be paid.
If a noncustodial parent can no longer afford child support payments, he or she should move the court to modify the child support order. Florida law allows you to request a modification based on a parent's substantial, permanent, or unanticipated change in financial circumstances.
What are the Consequences if a Parent Violates a Child Support Order in Orlando, FL?
When a noncustodial parent fails to pay child support, there are consequences. If a judge finds the noncustodial parent in contempt of a child support order, there are several different court actions and penalties that could occur. These actions can include methods to take money directly from the noncustodial parent or to penalize the parent in some way.
Withhold Money from the Noncustodial Parent
- Asset seizure. The court could take possession of the noncustodial parent's assets, like vehicles, real estate, or other property, and sell it to pay off unpaid child support payments.
- Bank account seizure. If the noncustodial parent is many months behind, the court can seize and withdraw funds directly from the noncustodial parent's bank account.
- Benefit withholdings. If the noncustodial parent receives any benefits, like workers' compensation or Social Security disability, the court could intercept these benefits to pay overdue and future child support payments.
- Liens. In some cases, a lien can be placed on the noncustodial parent's real estate and personal property in an effort to cover delinquent child support payments.
- Lottery intercepts. If the noncustodial parent wins $600 or more from the Florida Lottery, it can be intercepted to pay delinquent child support.
- Tax refunds withholdings. The court could withhold tax refunds, too, to cover some if not all unpaid child support payments.
- Wage garnishment. The court can garnish the noncustodial parent's wages by requiring his or her employer to withhold income from the paycheck to pay for missed and future payments.
Penalize the Noncustodial Parent
- Credit report. Florida state agencies can report the noncustodial parent's unpaid child support to credit bureaus.
- Driver's license suspension. In Florida, parents who owe child support could have their driving privileges suspended until child support is made current or they go on a payment plan.
- Fee reimbursement. The noncustodial parent could be ordered to reimburse the custodial parent attorney fees and travel costs.
- Home equity freezing. The court could place a hold on the noncustodial parent's home equity line.
- Incarceration. A judge could order the noncustodial parent to jail for nonpayment.
- Passport revocation. If a noncustodial parent owes more the $2,500 in child support in Florida, his or her passport can be revoked or an application for the same can be denied by the U.S. Department of State.
- Professional license suspension. If the noncustodial parent has a professional license, then it can be suspended – examples include a real estate license, CPA license, counseling, commercial driver's license, etc.
What Happens if the Noncustodial Parent Can't Be Located?
Florida's Child Support Enforcement Division has a parent locator service that will help you locate a noncustodial parent who is behind on child support. The agency uses different local, state, and federal location resources. You must provide some basic information for the agency to begin its search. Finding the noncustodial parent is critical to making sure you get your child support payments.
What Can a Parent Do to Enforce a Child Support Order?
If the noncustodial pays child support through the Department of Revenue, either online or by another means, then – according to Florida Statute § 61.14 – a delinquency notice is automatically generated when the account is 15 days delinquent. The Clerk sends the payor a notice of delinquency to the address of record. The payor has 15 days to make payment in full or file a motion to contest. Payment is not in full unless the fees listed in the notice are also paid. Also, a judgment/certificate of delinquency is filed and interest will begin to accrue on the account.
In many cases, the noncustodial parent pays the custodial parent directly. To begin enforcement of a child support order in these instances, the custodial parent can file a motion for civil contempt against the noncustodial parent. Florida courts believe strongly that both parents are financially responsible for their children. The courts take quick action on these types of cases.
To file this motion, you must have a valid child support order and be able to prove the noncustodial parent hasn't paid.
Contact a Family Law Attorney in Orlando, FL Today
Child support is meant to help the parent with primary custody of the child pay for expenses related to the child. These expenses can include pretty much anything from food, clothes, school, extra-curricular activities, among other expenses. A parent doesn't have a right to refuse to pay child support when it's been court-ordered.
If a noncustodial parent has fallen behind on child support payments and thus fallen behind on his or her responsibilities to the child, you – as the custodial parent – have options. Contact us at Veliz Katz Law today. We have the experience, insight, determination, and compassion to help our clients get what they deserve.