Many divorced couples with children are under the impression that once a court makes a decision regarding custody and child support, there will be no more court appearances for either parent. This misconception is as common as it is wrong. Despite the belief that dealings with a family lawyer may be “one and done,” the truth is that a large number of clients must one day return to court to enforce a child support order.

Many parents who owe and are owed child support find themselves in the following situations:

  • The obligor parent refuses to pay child support
  • Due to a change in income, the obligor parent cannot pay child support
  • They cannot find the obligor parent because the obligor has relocated

So is the parent who is owed child support without any recourse?

Absolutely not. Much of a family court’s time is spent enforcing child support orders. If a parent can but, refuses to pay child support, the Court can hold that parent in contempt. If a parent is found to be in contempt for nonpayment of child support, the following may happen:

  • Paying the other parent’s attorneys fees
  • Garnishing or withholding the obligor parent’s pay
  • Preventing the obligor parent from obtaining a legal passport or denying renewal of the passport
  • Suspending the obligor parent’s drivers license
  • Intercepting unemployment compensation
  • Intercepting a tax refund
  • Where a obligor parent is able, but willfully fails to pay child support, they can be imprisoned.

So am I stuck with my child support order?

Although the legislation in some states refers to those who fail to pay child support as “deadbeat dads,” the term is largely inaccurate in describing why people (in today’s changing job landscape, many woman out earn their former spouses and are ordered to pay child support) fail to pay child support. In Florida, child support calculations are based on statutory requirements. Often times after completing the child support worksheet, one will find that it leaves them with barely enough funds to pay their own bills. Paying child support often requires a major shift in one’s finances and accordingly most parents have to make major adjustments to their lifestyle. When combined with loss of a job or even a prolonged illness, the consequences can be financially catastrophic. In these situations, the obligor parent must act quickly because child support reductions are generally not retroactive. Loss of a job and/or a prolonged illness may qualify as a substantial change in circumstances. If it does, the child support payments can be reduced to the date of filing the request for a modification of support.

What if I can’t find the obligor parent?

Florida’s Department of Revenue and it’s sister agencies in other states have resources to locate a parent who is not paying child support.

Child Support and Visitation/Timesharing

Child visitation is separate from child support issues. One parent cannot deny visitation or timesharing based on the obligor parent’s failure to pay child support.

What to do?

Contact an attorney who is familiar with child support enforcement rules and guidelines. At South Florida Legal Rescue, an attorney will be more than happy to discuss your child support issues with you. Call today at 561-303-0400 or contact SFLR online (insert contact page).