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What are the consequences of failing to pay child support?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Firm News |

Divorce often means the split of a two-income household, which can lower the living standards of everyone involved, especially children. To protect their well-being, courts typically mandate child support payments. However, keeping up with this monthly obligation can become challenging if life circumstances change.

Child support payments help sustain a child’s basic living necessities. Instead of seeing it as a burden, parents should see it as their inherent responsibility. In addition, nonpayment may result in severe consequences in a stringent jurisdiction such as Florida.

Penalties for missing child support payments

Refusing to fulfill child support payments may result in contempt of court, particularly if the person ordered to do so is financially capable. To recover the overdue amount and delinquency fees, the court can impose the following penalties and actions:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Bank account and assets seizure
  • Driver’s license and professional license suspension
  • Withhold government benefits (such as workers’ compensation)
  • Passport denial
  • Jail time

When child support reaches a particular sum and is unpaid for a certain period, the state may escalate the offense to a felony. Months spent in prison can become a reality for those who fail to comply. However, the court is likely to explore other solutions before resorting to incarcerating parents.

Moreover, the court recognizes that a change in circumstances, such as loss of employment or a medical emergency, can negatively affect a person’s ability to fulfill payments. Those who notify the court and actively seek a solution instead of abandoning payments can avoid harsh penalties.

Requesting child support modification

Raising children involves substantial costs. If monthly child support payments become unreasonable, it may be possible to request a modification. However, eligibility criteria must be met. In such scenarios, the guidance of a lawyer can be invaluable.

Disregarding child support payments doesn’t just bring about legal repercussions; it also risks the child’s well-being. It pays to remember that legal solutions are available to parents overwhelmed by their situation. At its core, child support is more than just a financial obligation. It is a contribution to the happiness and health of a child.