Enforcing Child Support in Florida

When parents divorce, the noncustodial parent is ordered to pay money to the custodial parent in order to support their child or children. However, there are occasions where the noncustodial parent refuses to pay child support. What options do the custodial parent have to enforce child support?

How is Child Support Established in Florida?

First, it is important to understand that you must have a child support order signed by a judge and filed with a court clerk’s office in order to enforce child support. By filing a “Petition for Support” in the circuit court clerk’s office for the county where you and your children reside, you can establish child support. Upon filing the petition, you will be given a court hearing date, so it’s imperative to provide evidence of your income and your children’s financial needs before the judge. If both parties agree, the judge will sign the order. If both parties disagree, the judge will decide the final amount and include it in the order.

Child Support Enforcement in Florida

When an individual violates a court order, filing a “motion for contempt” is the most common way to enforce a child support order. Filing this motion informs the court that you have a legitimate, binding child support order in place and the noncustodial parent is behind on their payments. You are able to file a motion for civil contempt by yourself, with the help of a qualified attorney, or by asking Florida Child Support Enforcement to file a motion for you.

In order to prove your child’s other parent is in contempt of the child support order, you’ll have to provide the following:

  • You possess a valid child support order, which has been approved and signed by a Florida judge
  • The noncustodial parent hasn’t paid child support based on the conditions of the order
  • The noncustodial parent has the ability to pay

You will be given a hearing date, where both parties must attend, where the judge will decide whether the noncustodial parent is in contempt. This gives the noncustodial parent the chance to prove they can’t fulfill the payments. However, the court will assume the noncustodial parent is able to pay.

If the judge determines that your case is well-founded, he or she will hold the noncustodial parent in contempt and issue an order which details how and when the parent should pay overdue child support. The judge also has the ability to include other penalties, such as fines and time in jail.

The following are various remedies to collect overdue and future support ordered by the judge:

  • Create a payment plan for the noncustodial parent
  • Withhold income from the noncustodial parent’s paychecks
  • When more than $6000 or 4 months of child support is owed, garnish money from bank accounts
  • When $500 or more is owed, intercept state or federal tax refunds
  • When more than $600 or 4 months of child support is owed, place liens on motor vehicles and for their sale
  • Intercept lottery winnings of over $600
  • Place liens on real or other personal property and order their sale
  • Freeze a home equity line
  • Claim and sell a noncustodial parent’s abandoned or unclaimed property
  • Intercept workers’ compensation funds
  • Jail sentence for up to one year until overdue child support is paid

In addition, a court can order delinquent, noncustodial parents to reimburse your attorney’s fees and other expenses related to the contempt motion, such as expert witness costs and travel expenses. Do not hesitate to seek experienced and reliable legal assistance from our Ocala child support lawyer today.

Contact Anne E. Raduns, PA and request an initial consultation.