In most family law proceedings where minor children are involved, one party is usually ordered to pay the other party child support. Oftentimes, the noncustodial parent (the parent who timeshares with the children less often) is ordered to pay the custodial parent (the parent who timeshares with the children more often) child support. When a party is ordered to pay child support to provide for the needs of their children, sometimes, the party receiving child support may run into an issue with respect to enforcement of a child support order. Unfortunately, our clients come to us asking how they can enforce a child support order to get the paying spouse to pay on time, or sometime pay at all! Fortunately, the court and state agencies have resources to help with collecting child support payments.
In most cases, after parties have resolved their family case or a trial has occurred, there will be a child support order which states how much a party is supposed to pay for child support on a monthly basis. As explained above, unfortunately, people violate these orders.
The most common way to enforce a child support order is by filing a “motion for civil contempt.” Filing a motion for contempt tells the court that you have a valid child support order in place, and the noncustodial parent is behind on payments. To prove a delinquent parent is in contempt of the child support order, the moving party will have to show: (1) they have a valid child support order; (2) the other parent has not paid child support according to the order, and (3) the other parent has the ability to pay. The judge will decide whether the other parent is in contempt at an evidentiary hearing.
Once the delinquent parent has been held in contempt of the child support order, the judge can order several different remedies to help you collect overdue and future support. The judge’s order can:
- Establish a payment plan for the delinquent parent to follow.
- Withhold income from a delinquent parent’s paychecks.
- Intercept federal or state tax refunds when $500 or more is owed.
- Intercept lottery winnings of more than $600.
- Garnish money from financial accounts when more than $600 or 4 months of child support is owed.
- Place liens on vehicles and force their sale when $600 or more is owed.
- Place liens on real or other personal property and order their sale.
- Claim and sell a delinquent parent’s abandoned or unclaimed property.
- Freeze a home equity line for a parent to prevent potential child support money from being spent.
- Intercept worker’s compensation funds owed to a delinquent parent.
- Incarcerate a delinquent parent up to a year until overdue child support is paid.
Furthermore, the State of Florida, through Florida Child Support Enforcement can take the following punitive measures:
- The Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend delinquent parents’ driver’s licenses and car registrations until they pay overdue support or agree to a payment plan.
- The State of Florida can suspend delinquent parents’ professional, occupational, or recreational licenses until they pay overdue support or agree to a payment plan.
- The Child Support Enforcement Agency can check all Florida financial records (for example, records for bank accounts and money market accounts) to see if delinquent parents have funds that could be used to pay child support.
It goes without saying that not paying child support leads to serious ramifications. If you are looking to wither enforce a child support order, or defend yourself against enforcement of an order, the office of Thomas McDonald Law Firm, PA, can be of assistance.