Child support is often one of the most contentious aspects of a separation or divorce. One parent may feel their child needs more while the other believes they are paying too much.
A skilled West Palm Beach child support enforcement lawyer understands how important it is that both parents financially support their children. If your child is owed support and the other parent is not paying, a member of our dedicated legal team could explain your options and ensure that your child’s best interests are protected.
Penalties for Nonpayment of Child Support in Palm Beach County
There are strict laws to punish a parent for failing to pay support and strongly encourage them to meet their ongoing child support obligation. Under state law, child support enforcement agencies can request that a parent’s passport be revoked or their application denied if they owe $2,500 or more in child support payments. The agency can also report the delinquency to credit bureaus if the parent falls 15 days or more behind.
Additionally, the state’s enforcement agencies can work with banks and creditors to freeze a parent’s accounts if they owe at least four months of support or $600. A knowledgeable attorney could explain the penalties for unpaid child support and go over enforcement options in more detail during an initial consultation.
Filing for Contempt of Court
When a parent violates a child support order, the other parent can file a motion for civil contempt as long as they have a court order in place. To hold a parent in contempt, a judge must be convinced that the other parent could pay but chose not to. A court will generally not find a parent in contempt if, due to circumstances they could not control, the parent is financially unable to meet their support obligation.
If a judge holds a parent in contempt, they can issue an order stating when they must pay the outstanding child support. A court may permit the parent to make payment over time to satisfy the arrears in some cases. The court’s order could also do the following:
- Withhold income from the delinquent parent’s wages
- Intercept state or federal tax refunds if a parent owes $500 or more
- Garnish a parent’s financial accounts if more than $600 is owed
- Intercept lottery winnings of $600 or more
- Freeze home equity lines of credit
- Intercept the delinquent parent’s worker’s compensation payments
- Establish liens on the delinquent parent’s real or personal property and then liquidate it and apply the proceeds to back child support
The parent in contempt could also be required to reimburse the other parent for the legal fees they incurred to file and pursue the enforcement action. In the most extreme cases, a judge could order the delinquent parent’s incarceration for up to one year. A West Palm Beach attorney is well-versed in contempt proceedings and could work collaboratively with the local child support enforcement office to ensure compliance with a support order.
Suspension of Driver’s and Business Licenses
One standard method of child support enforcement is the revocation of a delinquent parent’s driver’s license. The Florida Child Support Enforcement agency can also work with the Department of Motor Vehicles to prevent the delinquent parent from renewing their vehicle’s registration.
If the delinquent parent continues to accrue child support arrears, the state can suspend their business and other professional licenses until they satisfy the arrears or establish a payment plan acceptable to the parent owed the support. Under Florida Statutes §61.13015, licenses subject to suspension include:
- Real estate
- Foster care
A skilled child support enforcement lawyer in Palm Beach County could explain the possible sanctions a delinquent parent faces for failing to pay.
Reach out to a West Palm Beach Child Support Enforcement Attorney to Learn More
Dealing with a noncompliant parent can be difficult, especially when your children rely on child support payments. If you have questions about enforcing child support payments or need assistance working with the local child support enforcement agency, contact our office today. A West Palm Beach child support enforcement lawyer could explain your legal options and ensure that your children are prioritized.