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The Penalties for Failing to Pay Child Support in Florida

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 21, 2022

When it comes to enforcing child support, Florida has some of the toughest laws in the country.

Child support is the money that the noncustodial parent will pay to the custodial parent to help support their child. In recent years, Florida lawmakers have been working to structure and regulate consistent child support laws more effectively. If a noncustodial parent fails to pay child support, Florida courts will take swift and stern action to help the noncustodial parent collect payments.

To begin the process, a custodial parent must file a motion for civil contempt against the noncustodial parent, claiming that he or she violated a court order for child support. In order to do so, the parent must have a valid child support order, and must prove that the other parent hasn’t been paying the child support even though they have the ability to.

If the judge determines that the noncustodial parent has violated the child support order, the court will hold the noncustodial parent in contempt.

If you are found in contempt of a child support order, you may be subject to a variety of court actions and penalties, such as:

Bank account seizure. The court may seize and take funds directly from your bank accounts when more than $600 or four months of child support is due.

Withheld income. The court may withhold income from your paycheck to pay for overdue and future payments.

Withheld tax refunds. If you owe $500 or more in child support, the court may take payment from your federal and state tax returns.

Withheld benefits. The court may intercept benefits such as worker’s compensation.

Prize winnings seizure. The court can seize lottery winnings of more than $600 in order to obtain overdue and even future payments.

Asset seizure. The court may take possession of your vehicles, real estate, or other property to sell in order to pay off overdue and future payments.

Home equity freezing.. The court may put a freeze on the home equity line of your house in order to keep you from spending money that could be used to pay child support.

Credit report. State agencies may report you to credit bureaus if you are behind on child support more than 15 days.

Driver’s license suspension. The court may suspend your driving privileges until you pay overdue support or agree to comply with a payment plan.

Passport revocation. If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, the courts may report you to the US Department of State to have your passport revoked or application denied.

Professional license suspension. The court can suspend your professional, occupational, or recreational license until child support is paid or you agree to comply with a payment plan.

Fee reimbursement. A judge may order you reimburse the other parent’s legal fees and other costs related to the case, such as travel costs.

Incarceration. You could be incarcerated for up to a year until you pay overdue child support.

Help for Parents Facing Child Support Issues

Florida courts believe that both parents have a duty to provide financial support for their children, and have strict laws established to enforce this standard, and guidelines to determine how much a noncustodial parent should pay. If you are a parent who cannot afford to make your court-ordered child support payments, consult with a low-cost Florida child support lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to help you negotiate a fair settlement that you can afford.

Additionally, if you are at risk of being found in contempt of court for unpaid child support, your attorney can protect your rights at the hearing. With the help of a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer, you may be able to demonstrate evidence that you are unable to pay, and give sufficient reason as to why you didn’t request a modification hearing beforehand.

The penalties for failure to pay child support can be severe, impacting your financial situation, personal life, and freedom in a big way. If you want to avoid the tough consequences associated with civil contempt of court for violating a child support order, you’ll need powerful legal representation.