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Articles Posted in Child Support Arrears

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.

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 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.

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.

Just when you were thinking about all the different ways in which you were going to spend your tax refund, reality sets in, and you realize that the IRS has intercepted your money. How can they do this; is it really possible; can the IRS take my refund and apply it against child support that I owe? The answer is YES!

The authority of the IRS to intercept tax refunds was established pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code. The program is known as TRIP, or the tax refund intercept program.

The TRIP program is administered by the Florida Department of Revenue in cooperation with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The authority of the Department of Revenue to act in this capacity is found in Sections 409.2554(1) & 409.2557(1) of the Florida Statutes, (2008).

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