04 Aug How Are Child Support Orders Enforced in Florida?
If you are the primary caretaker or custodial parent of your child, the child’s other parent will most likely be obligated to pay child support. Sometimes, though, in unfortunate situations, the child’s other parent may, for whatever reason, not follow through with their obligation to make child support payments. In this challenging scenario, do not fear, as there are a number of ways that you can help ensure that the child support order is enforced.
One very common method that a court will use to enforce a child support order is through the threat of finding the non-paying parent in contempt of court. If this does occur, the court can even jail the parent for a period of time. Worth noting is the fact that this is not a criminal proceeding and does not involve a conviction, strictly speaking. Usually, however, the possibility of being found in contempt of court, and thus put in jail, will adequately pressure the non-paying parent to fulfill their obligation and pay the child support. Actually holding an individual in contempt, however, is usually done only as a last resort if the parent continues not to pay. This is largely because the primary goal of the proceeding is to help ensure that the custodial parent makes financial support payments in order to help take care of the child involved. If the parent that is meant to be paying the child support is in jail, however, they cannot reasonably be expected to pay as they will not be working while incarcerated. Fortunately, other means of enforcing the child support order exist.
One of these other means by which a child support order can be enforced is through automatically debiting the wages of the non-custodial parent directly through his or her employer. This is done through what is referred to as an “income withholding order”. In fact, many of the child support payments gathered in the United States are done through income withholding orders. In this situation, an employer is required to comply with the order and hand over a certain amount of the paycheck before ever giving the non-custodial parent any money. Furthermore, the non-custodial parent must give notification if they move to another state or change employers, or they risk being held in contempt. If this is the appropriate action to take in your situation, then consider speaking with an attorney. The rules surrounding income withholding orders can vary from state to state, and an attorney might be able to help you decide how is best to proceed.
Similar to the interception of wages, non-custodial parents that are not fulfilling their child support order requirements risk having their property seized by the state in order to pay off delinquent child support payments. Federal tax refunds can also be withheld and even garnished entirely in order to pay for missed child support payments. Furthermore, a court can even suspend the non-paying non-custodial parent’s business license or occupational license if the case requires it. In some instances, a court may even choose to suspend the parent’s driver’s license, and parents that owe a significant amount of back payments for child support can even be denied a passport.
These methods of enforcement remain in effect even if the parent crosses state lines, and most states, if not all, cooperate with others in ensuring they are enforced and that the custodial parent receives the money they deserve in order to help the child. In some cases, if payment is never paid, criminal charges may be brought against the non-paying parent, which can result in imprisonment for a set number of years and/or a large fine. Again, in situations such as these, it is advised to consult with an attorney. An attorney can help you determine if this applies to your case, and how to proceed if this path is needed.
This may seem like a lot, but these situations are manageable. Most states have a child support enforcement program that will determine, on its own, the best method of enforcing the child support order and procuring the money that is owed. The legal system supports custodial parents and works hard to ensure that the children in such situations are not suffering because of unpaid and unenforced child support orders.