Parents are obligated to ensure their children are taken care of financially, and Florida law is quite clear on this matter. When a married couple with children divorce, more often than not, the non-custodial parent is ordered by the court to pay child support to the custodial parent. Over time, it is not uncommon for problems to arise resulting in late payments or unpaid support. Whether you are the party who is owed money or the party obligated to pay, a Sarasota child support lawyer can explain the legal issues involved and possible options.
Enforcement of Child Support
If a court order is in place for child support, it can be enforced by filing a motion for contempt. The Sarasota child support lawyer for the custodial parent who is owed the support must demonstrate to the court:
• The existence of a valid court order signed by a judge;
• The non-custodial parent has not paid support as per the court order; and
• The non-custodial has the ability to pay the ordered support.
There is a legal presumption that the non-custodial parent who owes the money, known as the obligor, has the financial ability to pay. If the obligor cannot demonstrate to the court good cause for not paying and cannot offer a plan to repay the amounts owed, the court may find the obligor in contempt of court.
In addition to providing remedies for the back support owed, a Sarasota child support lawyer warns that the court can order the non-paying parent to pay fines and even serve jail time. Additionally, attorney’s fees and expenses may be ordered to be reimbursed to the custodial parent for filing the contempt motion.
Collection of Unpaid Support
Once the obligor has been held in contempt, there are various methods available to collect what is owed. Depending on the individual circumstances, a Sarasota child support lawyer indicates the following options may apply:
• Withhold wages from the obligor’s paycheck;
• Intercept federal or state income tax refunds;
• Freeze or seize money in financial accounts;
• Place liens on vehicles, such as cars, boats and motorhomes and force their sale;
• Place liens on real property;
• Intercept worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, lottery winnings or insurance settlements.
Florida Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
Once aware of the arrears owed, the CSE will also take measures to encourage payment, such as:
• Suspend the driver’s license or registration of the obligor;
• Report the arrears owed to credit bureaus; or
• Suspend the professional license or certification of the obligor.
Modification of Child Support
Some failures to pay child support are due to an actual inability to pay. If the non-custodial parent has suffered a significant loss of income or other change of circumstance, they may be able to petition the court to modify the existing child support order.
Contact a Sarasota Child Support Attorney for Legal Advice
Florida has aggressive laws regarding child support. If the existing order is not being complied with, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities. Call Liz Alpert at Alpert Law, P.A., a Sarasota child support attorney group, at 941.954.1700.