What Happens If I Can’t Pay Child Support?
Child support payments are court ordered and legally obligate a child’s parent to financially support that child. Most awards are decided during divorce hearings, or at the end of a romantic relationship and will need to be paid on a fixed schedule until a child turns 18 years old. A person’s financial situation, however, won’t necessarily stay the same indefinitely and a parent who was ordered to pay child support may find him or herself unable to do so. The best thing that a parent can do in this situation is to seek modification of the child support order. Doing so can, however, be complicated, so if you are no longer able to meet your child support obligations, you should consider reaching out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale child support modifications lawyer for help.
What if I Miss a Payment?
In Florida, parents who are more than 15 days late on a child support payment will be contacted by the Department of Revenue (DOR), which will send them a Notice of Delinquency. If five more days pass with no communication from the non-paying parent, then a judge will get involved by:
- Withholding payments from the parent’s paycheck;
- Seizing the contents of the non-paying parent’s bank account;
- Suspending the parent’s driver’s license;
- Withholding or seizing a tax refund;
- Placing a lien against the parent’s property; or
- Assessing additional fines.
If a parent is more than four months past due, or owes more than $2,500 in child support payments, he or she can even be charged with a felony and could face up to six months in jail.
Modifying Your Order Due to a Change of Circumstances
Parents who cannot pay child support can seek a modification of their child support order by petitioning the court. Before a judge will amend a child support agreement, however, the petitioner will need to demonstrate that a change in circumstances has occurred that makes the old agreement unworkable. For parents who cannot pay, this could take the form of a job loss or a demotion, or the onset of an illness or disability. Alternatively, proof that a child is spending more time with the non-custodial parent could also justify a change in child support, as could evidence of a significant change in expenses. If this standard has been satisfied, then a judge could officially reduce the child support payments, thereby ensuring that a parent doesn’t fall behind and end up in legal trouble.
Contact an Experienced Florida Child Support Modification Lawyer
The best way to avoid the penalties that come with failing to pay child support is to make those payments on time every month. If, however, this is not possible, then the parent in question has a few different options, including asking the court to modify the child support order. If your own financial circumstances have changed and you’re having trouble keeping up with your payments, contact dedicated child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to learn more about your legal options.