Published on:

What is Florida’s “Deadbeat Dad” Law, and How can it Affect Your Family?

Child support obligations, on the one hand, and the failure to fulfill them, on the other, are among the biggest sources of conflict and resentment among divorced couples. Florida has laws to protect the rights of the parent ordered to pay child support and the one who receives child support payments on behalf of the children. The laws surrounding the enforcement of child support orders and the measures that Florida family courts can take to collect late child support payments are popularly known as the Deadbeat Dad Law, although this is something of a misnomer. First, not all parents who are required to pay child support are men. Second, not everyone who falls behind on child support payments does so as a means of intentionally evading parental responsibility. Except in the direst financial circumstances, Florida courts hold parents to the responsibility to provide financial support for their biological and adopted children. Thus, it is much easier to fall behind on child support obligations than it is for a court to absolve you of responsibility for them.

The Lengths to Which Courts can Go to Collect Child Support Payments

The court system can go to great lengths to collect overdue child support payments. These are some of the ways that courts can take money from you and apply it to child support if you do not pay:

  • Garnishing wages
  • Seeking bank accounts
  • Selling assets from your estate (even death cannot get you out of the obligation to pay child support)
  • Additionally, the court can impose the following non-financial punishments for failure to pay child support:
  • Contempt of court
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Suspension of passport

The Courts Generally Treat Child Support and Visitation as Unrelated

If you do not keep up with child support payments, the court can interfere greatly in your finances and in other aspects of your life, such as your right to drive and travel. What it cannot do is take away your right to spend time with your children. Parenting plans deal with every aspect of raising children after divorce except financial ones. For example, they specify which days, including which holidays, the children spend with each parent, and they specify which parent has the right to make certain decisions regarding the children’s education and health. The idea is that money comes and goes, but parent-child relationships are forever. Besides, the courts generally hold that it is in the best interest of the children to spend a substantial amount of time with both parents, regardless of financial circumstances. Conversely, having little or no visitation time with the children, even being estranged from them completely, does not erase child support obligations.

Contact Alan Burton About Enforcement of Child Support Orders

It can be frustrating if your former spouse does not make the child support payments that the court ordered as part of your divorce. Contact Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, Florida to help get the child support money that is owed to you.