Miami Family Law Attorneys Advise on Child Support Enforcement

Effective representation for payors and recipients in payment disputes

Every state in the country recognizes a parent’s obligation to provide material support for his or her children, and every state takes that obligation very seriously. Moreover, the federal government, which generally does not get involved in family law matters, makes it a crime to willfully fail to pay child support obligations. Therefore, a court order to pay child support is strictly enforced, meaning that parents who fail to make payments face serious consequences. At Rafool, PLLC, we help recipient parents pursue remedies for unpaid child support for the sake of their children’s health and welfare. We also represent parents who have, for one reason or another, fallen behind in payments and need guidance on how best to minimize the consequences.

Common reasons parents fall behind on child support payments

Despite widespread notion that large numbers of parents deliberately ignore child support obligations, statistics show that about 95 percent of unpaid child support cases are now due to a parent’s inability to pay, most often caused by:

  • A failure of their business
  • A long-term unemployment
  • A disability due to accident or illness
  • The parent’s other child support and/or alimony obligations

Only a very small percentage of parents who are able to pay child support fail to do so. Often the reason for not paying is retaliation for the recipient parent’s interference with the obligor’s parenting time under the child custody order. This tactic is never justified; it only gets the obligor in trouble with the court and does nothing to remedy the interference. An obligor in this situation should continue paying support and petition the court to enforce the terms of the parenting plan against the recipient parent.

If an obligor has the means to pay child support but refuses, the recipient parent has a variety of enforcement measures available.

Enforcement of unpaid child support in Florida

If child support is unpaid, either the recipient parent or Florida’s Child Support Enforcement Program may request the court to hold a hearing to determine if the obligor is in contempt. A finding of contempt can result in jail time and fines. The court can also order enforcement measures that include:

  • Seizure of bank assets
  • Suspension of driver’s license, sporting licenses, and professional licenses
  • Interception of lottery winnings and tax refunds
  • Wage garnishment

Failure to pay child support can also expose an obligor to federal criminal prosecution for violating 18 U.S.C. § 228. This federal law makes it illegal for an individual to willfully fail to pay child support under certain circumstances. If the obligation crosses state lines, if the amounts are more than one year overdue, or if the amount exceeds $5,000, the obligor can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor. Conviction can result in fines and up to six months in prison.

Inability to pay is a defense to contempt and to the federal charge, but it does not relieve the obligor of the burden of paying support that is past due. To minimize potential consequences of unpaid child support, an obligor should always enlist the assistance of an experienced child support attorney.

Contact our Miami family law firm for advice on child support enforcement

If you are dealing with unpaid child support, either on the paying or receiving end, the experienced family law attorneys at Rafool, PLLC, can deliver the sound advice and determined representation you need. For immediate assistance, call us at (305) 567-9400 or contact our Miami office online to schedule an initial consultation.