The Consequences Of Missing Child Support Payments
Child support payments ensure that a child receives the things that he or she needs, including everything from housing and food to clothing and tuition. Payments can, however, end up being a financial burden for the paying parent, especially if he or she experiences a job loss. In other cases, a parent may simply stop paying out of spite or because he or she disagrees with the amount. Whatever the reason, there are significant consequences for missing child support payments.
Legal Penalties for Missing Payments
If a parent has been ordered to pay child support, but fails to do so, the custodial parent has the option of filing a motion for civil contempt. If this happens, a judge will review the case and determine whether the other parent has violated the order for child support. Potential legal penalties for missing a child support payment include:
- Having the payments taken directly from the parent’s paycheck, a process known as wage garnishment;
- Seizing the contents of the non-paying parent’s bank account;
- Withholding the non-paying parent’s government benefits;
- Suspending the non-paying parent’s driver’s license;
- Reporting the missed payments to the credit bureaus, which can negatively impact the parent’s credit score;
- Seizing or withholding the non-payer’s tax refund;
- Ordering the parent to reimburse the custodial parent’s legal fees; and
- Sentence the co-parent to jail time.
It’s important to note that missing child support payments can result in felony criminal charges if someone:
- Is past due by four months;
- Owes more than $2,500;
- Has been convicted of failing to pay child support; and
- Has tried to leave the state to avoid paying child support.
If convicted, a noncustodial parent who refuses to make child support payments could face a jail sentence of up to six months.
Preventing Missed Payments
Parents who cannot make court-ordered child support payments can take certain steps before missing those payments. They can, for instance, ask the court to modify the child support order. To do so successfully, a non-custodial parent will need to prove that his or her financial circumstances have changed substantially and suddenly. Examples of substantial life changes that could justify the modification of a child support order include:
- Being fired or laid off;
- Having one’s wages reduced;
- Being hospitalized or unable to work due to health problems;
- Making significant changes to a visitation order that has resulted in the non-custodial parent having more parenting time;
- A significant change in expenses, like a raise in rent costs or medical bills; or
- A custodial parent earning significantly more income.
Parents who cannot make their payments should try to modify their order as soon as possible after their financial situation changes to avoid the risk of penalties.
Consult with a Dedicated Florida Child Support Lawyer
If you have missed child support payments, or your co-parent is refusing to pay child support, contact experienced Fort Lauderdale child support enforcement attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. for help. We can fight on you and your child’s behalf. Call us at 954-945-7591 or contact us online today.