What Can a Parent Do When Child Support Payments Stop Coming?
Supporting a child in today’s world is not an easy proposition. With costs generally rising every year, the ever-increasing demand for technology in education, and the parade of activities in which children are expected to participate, parents can easily be overwhelmed by the required time and money commitments. This struggle is compounded if someone is raising a child as a single parent, which is why family law statutes in Florida include provisions for child support. These provisions stem from the continuing legal obligation all parents assume to financially support a child from birth until adulthood. The only way to avoid this responsibility is to relinquish or lose all parental rights over a child via an order from a court. When parents separate or divorce and child custody issues are decided, there is also a concurrent analysis that calculates the amount of support each parent is expected to provide to their child on a monthly basis. Typically, the parent with the most ability and/or least amount of parenting time will pay the other parent their portion of the child support. Florida law recognizes the great importance of this money to the child’s wellbeing and development, and as a result, includes a number of mechanisms to compel payment when it is not voluntarily forthcoming. In fact, recognition of this issue recently touched the international stage when the U.S. signed onto the Hague Convention Treaty for the International Recovery of Child Support. This agreement will make it easier for parents to enforce child support orders in other countries because it places additional pressure on officials to locate delinquent parents and enforce existing orders.
Income Deduction Orders
The easiest and most common way of ensuring a parent pays child support is with an income deduction order issued by a court. These orders are always issued in conjunction with any court order that establishes, enforces, or modifies child support payments. Income deduction orders require the obligated parent’s employer to automatically withdraw the amount set by the court, and submit the payment to the Florida Department of Revenue for distribution to the custodial parent. In addition, these orders can include instructions for the deduction of additional amounts if a parent is in arrears, which can be paid from any income the obligated parent earns, including bonuses and other one-time payments. Income deduction orders remain in effect as long as the underlying child support order is valid, and even continue beyond this time if back child support is still outstanding. However, the key to these court orders working properly is knowing where the obligated parent is employed, so if the parent frequently changes jobs or quits his/her job to avoid paying, other legal options must be applied.
Once a parent falls 15 days behind paying child support, the other parent can petition a court to suspend the driver’s license and/or vehicle registration to compel compliance. Before the suspension can occur, notice must be given to the obligated parent about the delinquency and impending suspension, along with an opportunity to remedy the overdue amount or contest the claim within 20 days of the notice’s mailing. If the parent fails to respond or make an effort to pay, the court can issue an order directed to the Department of Motor Vehicles that directs it suspend the parent’s driver’s license and vehicle registration until the delinquency is addressed.
Seizure of Certain Money
Finally, the Department of Revenue, as the unit in charge of collecting and disbursing child support payments, has the authority to seize certain funds belonging to the delinquent parent in order to clear the amount in arrears. Examples of money the Department can confiscate include:
- federal income tax refunds;
- Florida lottery winnings;
- unemployment benefits;
- workers’ compensation benefits; and
- financial accounts.
Get Legal Advice
Chasing someone who owes you child support is an exhausting and frustrating experience. Instead, hire a family law attorney who knows all of the legal options to force compliance with a child support order. The Tampa law firm of Bubley & Bubley, P.A. handles a wide variety of family law matters, and can help you collect the money you need. Contact us for a free consultation.