Though both parents have an obligation to provide for their child during a separation and after a divorce, the noncustodial parent may not always follow through with making timely child support payments.
If the noncustodial parent refuses to pay child support or has fallen behind on payments, the custodial parent can seek help from the courts to help collect overdue child support.
Make Sure to File for a Petition for Support
Florida has strict child support laws in place to protect children after a divorce. However, in order to enforce child support, you need to have a child support order that is signed by a judge. To establish child support, file a petition for support in the clerk’s office at the court. Once the court receives your petition, it will set a hearing date.
If you and the noncustodial parent agree on a monthly payment, the judge will approve the amount and sign a child support order to formalize the agreement. However, if you both do not agree on a monthly payment, the judge will decide the total amount and sign the order.
Sometimes, people think they can do it by themselves. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a petition for child support, it’s best to have the courts involved to get it in writing. Having a knowledge child support attorney involved will help you with the legal steps and make sure everything is in order.
Enforcing Child Support in Florida
There are many reasons why a non-custodial parent either doesn’t pay or gets behind on child support payments. Sometimes, the noncustodial parent stops making payments or refuses to pay the total monthly amount. The parent may also have fallen behind on payments or sends them to you once every few months. Even if the non-custodian parent files for bankruptcy, you can still be protected to receive child support payments.
To commence an enforcement proceeding against the noncustodial parent, you must file a motion with the court explaining that the parent has failed to pay. You will also need to show evidence that you obtained a court-approved child support order.
If the noncustodial parent cannot prove an inability to pay child support, the judge may find the parent in contempt. Afterward, the judge will create an order that states how and when the noncustodial parent will pay child support. The judge can include several things in the order to help you collect your payments, some of which include:
- Creating a payment plan for the noncustodial parent to follow
- Garnishing money from any financial accounts when the parent owes more than $600 or has fallen behind on payments after four months
- Placing liens on property and vehicles and forcing their sale
- Freezing home equity
- Withholding income from paychecks
- Intercepting federal and state tax refunds
The best strategy is to be proactive if your ex-spouse falls behind on their child support payments. The more time goes by, the more of a financial hardship it will become.
If you’re still waiting for overdue payments, contact Cheshire Family Law at 561-655-8844 for more information about child support enforcement options in Florida. We can help you understand the process and takes the necessary steps to help you receive your payments and help support your child.