Whether a divorce is amicable or highly contested, if the couple has children, then the court needs to decide the issue of child support. Ideally, the parent who is responsible for child support to the other parent can fulfill their obligations without any issues. Sometimes, however, the parent responsible for paying child support either refuses or can no longer pay. In this article, we will discuss what might happen to you if you’re not paying child support.

Valid Child Support Order

For one parent to force child support payments in Florida, they must have a valid child support order. It is not sufficient for the parents to have a written or verbal agreement. In Florida, a valid child support agreement must be signed by a judge and filed with the Clerk of Courts. Verbal agreements are not enforceable under Florida law, even if one parent can show that payments were being made as a result of the verbal agreement.

What Happens If One Parent Violates A Valid Child Support Order?

Suppose one parent files a valid child support order with the Clerk of Courts. In that case, the custodial parent (the parent who receives child support) has two legal options available to them under Florida law. Those options are as follows:

  • Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement (FSCE)
  • File a Civil Contempt
  • Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement (FSCE)

The Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement (FSCE) is an agency set up by the State of Florida where child support payments are made, then distributed to limit the contact between the parents who might have animosity between each other. The FSCE has the authority to check into the financial records of the parent who is supposed to be paying child support to determine if they have any accounts where there might be monies to satisfy the delinquency of payments.

The FSCE can also file for a hearing within the Department of Revenue. These hearings, however, are not binding, and only consist of recommendations. These recommendations are then presented to a judge to sign off on, thus making them enforceable. Either parent may object to the recommendations within a certain timeframe. However, if they do not object, the recommendations will be automatically accepted and signed off by a judge, and registered with the Clerk of Courts.

Filing A Civil Contempt

The more common legal option for the custodial parent to take is filing a civil contempt case against the other parent. In this hearing, the custodial parent has to show that there was an enforceable, valid child support order, the other parent has stopped paying child support, and that the other parent has the means to do so. Although you can do these hearings without a lawyer, it is always advisable to engage one to assist your claim.

Punishments For Refusing To Pay

Under Florida law, a few punishments can be levied against the non-custodial parent for not paying child support. Those punishments are as follows:

  • Fines
  • Suspension of a driver’s license and/or passport
  • Suspension of a professional license
  • Garnish bank accounts, then tax refunds, paychecks, or workers’ compensation payments.
  • Property liens
  • Report delinquency to credit agencies
  • Award legal and court fees to the other parent
  • Order jail time

In Conclusion

If you have found yourself in a situation where the other parent of your child is not paying child support, contact Thompson Law to protect the rights of you and your children. If you are responsible for paying child support and you recently find yourself in a situation where you can no longer pay, do not make the unilateral decision to stop paying. Contact the lawyers at Thompson Law to work out a modification plan.