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What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support in Florida?


When someone is ordered to pay child support, it’s an obligation that they need to take seriously. Both parents need to be active participants in their child’s life, and that includes supporting him or her. Failure to comply with Florida court-ordered child support can have serious consequences.

If you were awarded child support payments by the court, and your ex has not paid, there are methods available to try and enforce the judgment. We recommend speaking with a knowledgeable Boca Raton child support attorney who can help explore your options.

When payments are late, a late notice is first sent to the parent who was ordered to pay. If there is no payment received by the time stated in the notice, the state has the right to take further action. Penalties can be civil, professional/administrative, and/criminal.

Financial Penalties for Failure to Pay

If your ex has failed to pay ordered child support, he or she can be hit with additional financial penalties. Common remedies include:

  • Garnishing your ex’s paycheck;
  • Seizing their tax refund or any workers’ compensation benefits;
  • Garnishing their bank account(s);
  • Placing a lien on their home, vehicle, or other property; and/or
  • Taking the overdue amount from any applicable gambling or lottery wins.

Garnishing wages is the most common method of child support collection. This means the employer withholds a percentage of the child support directly from their paycheck, which can minimize the chance your ex doesn’t pay. In the event the non-custodial parent didn’t elect to have child support payments taken from their paycheck, the court can use this as an enforcement method.

Potential Criminal Penalties in Child Support Cases

In addition to civil penalties, someone who doesn’t pay child support can be subject to criminal prosecution as well. Some criminal actions include:

  • Issuance of an arrest warrant;
  • Jail time; and/or
  • Possible federal charges (can either be misdemeanor or felony).

Criminal charges and threats of contempt of court may be used in situations where the court determines the non-custodial parent can pay but refuses to. The court has the discretion to order jail time without a jury trial. The federal government might become involved when no payments have been made for more than a year, or the outstanding amount exceeds $5,000. The federal government’s Office of the Inspector General, can issue fines or prison time as well. 

Potential Administrative Penalties

There are other potential penalties that can affect both the person’s personal and professional life. They may not realize all the ways failing to pay child support can impact them. Some of these penalties include:

  • Driver’s license suspension;
  • Passport denial;
  • Denial or suspension of business or professional licenses required by the state;
  • Sending delinquent notices to credit bureaus;
  • Notifying your employer; and/or
  • Suspension of recreational licenses like hunting and fishing.

If your Ex Leaves the State

Some people opt to move to another state thinking Florida won’t be able to enforce the child support order out of state. This is not the case, as the Florida court will establish the order in whatever state necessary by filing an action that seeks domestication of the order.

Retaining a Florida Family Law Attorney

If you have questions about enforcing a child support order and collecting past due amounts, contact the skilled team at Schwartz | White at 561-391-9943 to schedule a consultation.

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