Methods of Enforcement When a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support
Functioning as a single parent after a divorce is an emotional and economic strain as the parent tries to balance providing a stable home for the child against the need to generate enough income to support the family. This precarious situation is the very reason why child support is so essential to financial stability of many families, and when that child support is received less frequently or completely stops, it can be devastating. Florida recognizes the importance of child support and has a number of enforcement mechanisms available to prod delinquent parents into making payments. A recent article in the Northwest Florida Daily News highlights one way Florida punishes parents who do not pay their child support – suspension of driver’s licenses. An overview of the monetary and non-monetary methods for enforcing child support orders will appear below.
Income Deduction Order
Whenever a court issues, enforces or modifies an order for child support, it also issues an income deduction order that requires any employer of the parent obligated to pay support to automatically deduct the child support amount from the parent’s paycheck and deposit it with the Child Support Program, a division within the Florida Department of Revenue. If the child support payments are in arrears, the employer must deduct an additional 20 percent until the amount that is past due is fully paid. In addition, any bonuses or other one-time compensation paid to the parent obligated to pay child support may also be used in whole or part to satisfy back child support.
Other Penalties for Non-payment
In addition to deductions from wages to ensure child support is paid, the Department of Revenue has the authority to intercept the following funds:
- federal income tax refunds;
- workers’ compensation;
- lottery winnings; and
- unemployment benefits.
It also possible to petition the court to suspend the obligated parent’s driver’s license or other professional licenses. For driver’s licenses, the parent will receive notice of the arrearage and will have 20 days to pay the delinquent amount, make payment arrangements with the other party, contest a delinquency exists or demonstrate the parent is receiving public assistance and consequently is unable to pay. For professional licenses, the obligated parent will have 30 days from the date of the notice to pay the amount in arrears or make payment arrangements with the other party.
Further, the Child Support Program is authorized to report delinquencies to consumer credit reporting agencies. Once notice of the intent to report is sent to the obligated parent, the parent has 25 days to clear the back child support or request a hearing.
Additionally, passport renewals will not be processed for parents who owe more than $2,500 in back child support. Finally, if a parent willfully refuses to pay child support despite having the financial means to do so or fails to respond to court order to show cause for why the support is not being paid, the parent can be held in contempt of court and be sentenced to jail time.
Talk to an Attorney
Parents are obligated by law to provide financial assistance to their children, and if you are dealing with an ex-spouse or partner who refuses to pay court-ordered child support, consulting with an attorney is crucial to recouping these monies as quickly as possible. The Tampa law firm of Bubley & Bubley, P.A., has extensive experience in divorce and child support matters. Contact us to schedule a confidential consultation.