Articles Posted in Child Support Arrears

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Paying child support in a timely fashion is important; not only is it important to the well being of your children, it is also important to your continuing freedom.

Although the Florida Constitution prohibits one from being imprisoned for a debt, the constitution will not protect you from being imprisoned as a result of non payment of your child support.

Although the Florida Constitution does provide safeguards for unlawful imprisonmement, if it is determined that the refusal to pay is willful, you most likely will be incarcerated for a period of time until something towards the child support arrears has been paid.

The local and national news is full of stories that deal with amnesty programs and other plans which are designed for and to encourage delinquent obligors to come forward with their child support payments.

However, these programs should not be considered as weakness or being lax on the part of the state enforcement divisions for the collection of child support. For example, Waynesboro, N.C. man was recently “brought down” by police tasers as he attempted to flee from police on a felony warrant for non-payment of child support. He is currently being held with no bond.777968_alcatraz.jpg

Some people will employ any means possible to avoid their child support obligations. Outside of Atlanta, a former government employee had his paychecks altered in order to avoid showing an increase in his income, which would ultimately lead to paying a smaller amount of child support.

This indiscretion on his part has ultimately landed him with a felony indictment for forgery, a first degree felony. Read the complete story about Freddie Ashmon, Jr.

The easiest way to not run afoul with the law is to pay your child support.

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A modification of child support, or alimony as well, is based upon an unforseen, involuntary, permanent and substantial change in circumstances. Florida statute 61.14 provides the statutory basis for a modification of child support and alimony.

If the court, after entertaining a petition for modification of support, either upward or downward, finds that there was a change in circumstances, or the financial position of either party has changed, the court can enter an order, retroactive to the date of filing the petition, granting the modification.

Often times it takes a considerable amount of time to have a matter scheduled for hearing before the court. The length of time varies between the particular judge and the courthouse in which the petition is pending.
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This is the rational behind the rule that petitions , if granted, are retroactive back to the date of filing. There is one important exception to this rule. If a parent seeks an upward modification of child support when the obligor is not exercising the agreed upon time sharing, the modification of that particular support obligation is retroactive to the date when the obligor first stopped adhering to the agreed upon time sharing schedule.

Terrell Owens, a well known player in the NFL
, was recently seeking a reduction of his child support obligations. His claim was based upon his current state of financial affairs. His efforts to reduce his support obligations would most likely have been successful, but for the fact that he most recently signed a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks for a reported sum of $1,000,000.00.

The case of Terrell Owens illustrates the point well. In order to obtain financial relief, there must be a certain degree of permanency in the change of one’s financial picture, not merely a temporary one.

If you have circumstances that you believe would warrant either an increase or decrease in your support obligations, you can call the law office of Alan R. Burton anytime. With over thirty years of experience in family law matters, Mr. Burton is well qualified to assist you with your questions. He maintains offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Feel free to call him today. He will be available to discuss your case.

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The payment and collection of child support in Florida as well as around the country is not always an easy process. Its surprising to see all the stories in the media today, which deal with individuals in the “public eye” who are not paying their child support.

For example, the gold medal champion, Gabby Douglas, made a recent announcement at the Olympics, that her father was a “deadbeat dad”,who neglected his responsibilities. This story was recently reported in the New York Post.

This is just one of the many stories I have come across this week, all of which deal with either celebrities or prominent sports figures who, for one reason or another, seem intent on neglecting their most important resources…their children.
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Former NFL star Warren Sapp reportedly filed bankruptcy recently, where it was disclosed by Mail Online that he owed substantial child support to four different women.

We are all familiar with the Michael Jackson story, but are not as familiar with all of the collateral stories, until now. Randy Jackson is embroiled in litigation with his family over the Michael Jackson estate. It may not be a coincident that he allegedly owes over $500,000.00 in back child support.

These figures obviously represent the accumulation of child support arrears, over an extended period of time. If you are the recipient of child support, the lesson to be learned here is to act fast. Don’t sit back waiting for a miracle……be proactive, and “nip the problem in the bud” before it becomes an impossible situation to ever rectify.

As an attorney with an active divorce practice in Boca Raton, Florida, and all surrounding areas, including Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, with over thirty years of experience, I can implement a strategy for collecting child support payments which are due and collecting child support arrears.

Don’t let this problem escalate to astronomical numbers and act today!

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Child support is designed to cover the basic necessities of life for a minor child, such as food, clothing and shelter.

Every state has “Child Support Guidelines in place, and Florida is not excluded. Florida Statute 61.30 deals with the support of minor children, and includes the child support guidelines adopted by the Florida legislature.

A compilation of various statistics regarding child support was recently reported in an article found at Ebony.com. As an example, the story indicates that child support is paid primarily by men, 85% to be precise. This is indicative of the mother generally being responsible for raising the children.

There are a host of penalties that one could suffer by not paying child support, including wage garnishments, seizures of property, loss of driving privileges, and jail time.

Take a moment to check out the article, with its other statistical information. It i informative.

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Is anyone exempt from paying child support? The answer is clearly NO. Each parent has a responsibility to support their children, not just one parent.1380007_one_dollar.jpg

This is even true if one parent is wealthy, and the other parent is down and out. Remember the television show, Jon & Kate plus 8? This situation exemplifies the example that both parents owe a duty of support.

In a recent news story published in “RealityTea” about child support, Jon Gosselin confessed that he was having difficulty sustaining himself, let alone all of his children.

Keep following this story. Mr. Gosselin will soon learn that regardless of the fact that his ex-wife has money or not, he has a responsibility to his children as well. Remember, “it takes two to tango.”

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Child support payments for a child in Florida is an extremely protected right. The state of Florida has imposed significant penalties against those who choose not to pay child support, including the loss of driving privileges, the loss of professional and other business licenses, and the loss of freedom..

Prior to the imposition of penalties for non payment of child support, the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing, and provide the non paying parent with an opportunity to explain why the support is not being paid. If the court determines that the non payment has in fact been willful, the parent will be found in contempt, and the next step for the court to consider becomes the penalties to be imposed.

If a determination is made by the court that the non paying parent has either cash or other assets available to pay towards the support owed, that then becomes the “purge payment”. The purge payment is the amount necessary to be released from jail, if the judge determines that is the appropriate sanction.

Loss of driving privileges is also possible, until such time as child support becomes current.

An experienced divorce lawyer, who frequently deals with child support, can work with you on these most important issues. It is often times best to deal with non payment of child support issues early on as these matters tend to “snowball” rapidly.

Florida Statute 61.30 governs the provisions and amounts of child support to be paid, based upon the combined earnings of the parents.

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The payment and collection of child support in the state of Florida often times can become a frustrating process. On the surface, the receipt of child support payments should be a straightforward matter.

The most effective remedy for the collection of child support is to invoke the contempt powers of the court. What exactly do we mean by invoking this process in the court system?

Initially there must be a court order which directs the obligor to pay a certain amount of child support, usually on a monthly basis. If the support payments become delinquent, the recipient has the right to bring the obligor (payor) before the judge, and to seek incarceration.

Having someone put in jail for non payment of support is not the easiest thing to do. First, the recipient of the child support, or alimony, must first prove to the court that the payor had the present ability to pay the court ordered support, and that the payor willfully refused to pay his child support or alimony.

Once this step is proven, you then need to demonstrate to the court that the person responsible for the payment of child support or alimony has the ability to either pay the full amount of the delinquency or a portion thereof. Once that amount has been established, it becomes the “purge” payment, and the payor can be sent off to jail until he pays the purge amount.

More often than not, the judge will usually give the payor a few days or up to a week to pay the purge amount, and if it isn’t paid within the required time, then jail would be appropriate.

The payor would remain in jail until such time as the purge is paid.

A simple straightforward analysis of this process is found in the case of Ramirez v. Ramirez, 4D11-3818 (April 4, 2012).

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Child support awards in Florida are always subject to modification, based upon many different reasons. In connection with a proceeding for the modification of child support, the question of retroactive support becomes important.

In other words, if an increase in child support may be appropriate, at what point in time does that increase become effective? Is the increase effective as of the date the circumstances arose, which entitles the recipient to receive more support, or does the increase start from the date of the award by the judge, or some other date? If you , as the payor, are seeking a reduction in the payment of child support, what date does that reduction occur?

The answer to that question was clearly provided for in the case of Webber v. Webber, 56 So3d 822 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011). The court in the Webber case made it clear that any modification of child support cannot be imposed on an individual prior to the date that a petition for modification is filed.

The moral of the story is that if you believe that you are entitled to either an increase in child support, or a decrease, don’t wait to file. If you delay in filing, you will lose out on the benefits that you are seeking.

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The payment of child support can put even more stress on an already difficult situation for many people today. The economy has taken an obvious downturn for many, many people. In spite of the economic crisis, children depend on the support for their wellbeing.

Trying to keep current on support obligations is no easy task, but the ramifications of not keeping up can be significant. Delinquencies can subject one to the loss of a driver’s license, professional license, or even the loss of their freedom, if the non payment is intentional and willful.

South Florida, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale are all areas in South Florida that feel the impact of the economy on the payment of child support. The Department of Revenue, the agency responsible for the collection of support, witnesses first hand the difficulties experienced by many in collecting child support in a difficult economy. A recent story appeared in the Sebring, Florida area that dealt with this very issue. You can read the story from the Tampa Tribune, and specifically their on line site.

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Maybe yes, or maybe no. The fact that such a large indebtedness exists, in and of itself, is not the determining factor that may lead to incarceration. The court must first determine how much of that debt can be presently paid by the obligor. This amount becomes the “key” to the jailhouse cell for the obligor.

This principal for asserting civil contempt in family law cases was established by the Florida Supreme Court, in the case of Bowen v. Bowen, 471 So.2d 1274, 1278-79 (1985). The Bowen case requires a two step analysis. First, the court must determine if the obligor, who is behind in his payments, has willfully violated the court order for support; and second; the court must determine an appropriate remedy which is to be imposed in order to compel the defaulting individual to comply with the court’s orders.

If the court wishes to incarcerate an individual for willfully failing to pay support, an affirmative finding must first be made to determine what the present ability is to meet a purge condition. A purge is generally a dollar amount that the defaulting party has the “present and current ability” to pay. Once that amount has been determined, the obligor or defaulting party can either pay or go to jail; his or her release will be subject to the payment of the purge established by the court.

Quite frequently, the purge payment represents a very small percentage of the support that is actually owed. It could literally be pennies on the dollar.

A recent case from the 3rd District illustrates the principals involved in jailing an individual for non payment of support. See the case of Aburos v. Aburos, Case No. 3D08-2808, decided on April 21, 2010. The former husband owed $319,828.00 in child support payments. He was found in willful contempt, and was ordered to be taken into custody. The court established a purge amount of $25,000.00, which amount would represent the” key to his cell”. On appeal, the appellate court ruled that it was simply error to establish a “purge amount” when there was no evidence in the record that the former husband had the “current and present ability” to pay the amount as ordered by the court.