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Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

Paying child support is an essential part of post-divorce life, if ordered by the court. Florida law encourages child support where necessary to ensure that children receive the full measure of support in their upbringing from two parents. Florida strictly enforces child support in comparison to other states, and a failure to contribute properly can lead to severe consequences.

Motions for Civil Contempt

The most typical effect on a noncompliant child support payer is for him or her to have a motion filed against him or her by the parent intended to be receiving the payments. If filed against in this manner, the noncompliant payer will be required to attend a court hearing and will be subject to the ruling of a judge, who may order provisions for when and how the delinquent parent must repay the unpaid funds as well as future payments. The judge also may order fines or even jail time for the delinquent parent.

Interception of Funds

In order to retrieve the unpaid funds from a delinquent parent, the court may order money withheld from the delinquent parent’s paychecks, intercept tax refunds, seize lottery winnings, take workers’ compensation funds, or freeze lines of credit. The court can also order funds withdrawn directly from the delinquent parent’s financial accounts, and Florida’s Child Support Enforcement Agency may report these seizures to credit reporting agencies, which may affect a nonpayer’s credit score.

Seizure or Sale of Property

To acquire the missing funds, the court may order a noncompliant parent to sell vehicles, real estate, or personal property (using liens) and to deliver the revenue from such sales to the recipient parent as compensation. This means that a delinquent parent may lose his or her house(s), valuable personal property, cars, or other possessions as a result of not meeting support obligations.

Revocation of Privileges or Licensure

If the delinquent parent has a driver’s license, car registration, or any kind of professional, occupational, or recreational practice licenses, the state of Florida can revoke these authorizations, licenses, or privileges as a penalty for nonpayment and may hold them until the nonpaying parent either repays the overdue support funds or agrees to a new payment plan. Passports may also be revoked.


Finally, and perhaps most seriously, the court can order a delinquent parent to be jailed for up to a year for unpaid child support, or at least until the unpaid support money is repaid. While incarceration for failure to pay child support may be a less common method of dealing with a delinquent parent, it is certainly not unheard of.

While these penalties may be severe, there is hope if you find yourself unable to pay child support. Likewise, there are measures you can take if you find your spouse is not paying child support. Both issues can be addressed with the help of an experienced family law attorney. At Schwartz | White, our qualified Boca Raton family law attorneys are available to assist you and to advocate for your rights. Call 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.

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