Failure to pay child support is a very serious issue to the state of Florida, as well as the federal government. If a parent does not pay child support after being ordered to do so by a court, he or she likely will experience a number of negative consequences. The penalties for deliberately failing to pay child support are severe. Our lawyers wrote this blog to enumerate some of the possible consequences, as well as discuss a couple of options for parents who may be struggling to keep up with their child support payments.
Penalties are Steep
Non-Payment of child support could result in:
- A Finding of Contempt: A parent who is ordered to pay child support by a court (hereinafter referred to as the "obligor") and fails to do so may be found in contempt of court. If a court determines that the obligor has willfully failed to pay child support when he or she had the means to do so, the obligor could be subject to fines, sanctions and even jail time.
- Driver's License Suspension: The State may suspend the obligor's driver's license and/or motor vehicle registration for non-payment of child support.
- Professional License Suspension. The State may suspend an obligor's professional licenses and certificates for non-payment of child support. This may include, but is not limited to, the licenses or certificates necessary to practice as a certified public accountant (CPA), real estate broker, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, teacher, child care provider or collection agent.
- Seizure of Assets. Federal income tax refunds, state lottery winnings, and unemployment compensation can all be intercepted by the government to pay child support. Bank accounts may be levied.
- Liens. A lien can be placed on the obligor's real property or personal property, such as a boat, motor home or recreational vehicle. If the obligor attempts to sell the real or personal property, the lien becomes a potential hindrance to sale and must be paid in connection with any sale of the property.
- Garnishment. The obligor's income may be garnished or attached to pay past-due child support.
- Passport Denial. The United States Department of State may decline to issue or renew a passport to an obligor who is delinquent in payment of child support.
These are just some of the potential consequences of failing to pay child support. Each child support enforcement case is unique, and the government has many enforcement tools at its disposal.
What if you fall behind?
A parent who is struggling to keep up with child support payments is not without options. It is a fact of life that parents sometimes lose their jobs, get sick or struggle financially for other reasons. When parents find themselves in a temporary financial bind, they may work with their lawyer to file a motion to temporarily abate child support payments. Parents who experience a more substantial and permanent change of financial circumstances may request that their attorney file a petition to modify their child support obligation.
When child support is not paid, the consequences can be harsh. Therefore, wise parents will do everything possible to comply in good faith with any court orders, and promptly seek help from a Coral Springs child support lawyer if they fall behind in payment.