The rate at which alimony and/or child support arrears are repaid is largely dependent on whether or not an income withholding order has been previously entered in the case.
If an income deduction order or income withholding order has been entered, Florida Statute 61.1301(1)(b)(2) mandates that any arrears must be repaid at least at the rate of 20% of the regular monthly support obligation. This is a nonnegotiable amount that cannot be repaid at less than the 20% rate based upon the statutory mandate.
The situation is a little bit different when there is no previously existing income withholding order. The court has more discretion to dictate the terms at which arrears will be repaid to the recipient. Case law has made it clear that in situations where income deduction or income withholding orders are not at issue or in play in the case, the trial court would have discretion to provide a different rate of payment on existing arrears.
In Burdick v. Burdick, 601 So.2d 632 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992), the appellate court held that “a trial judge generally has discretion to order arrearage payments in installments or to otherwise structure the manner of payment”. In another case, Ashe v. Ashe, 509 So.2d 1146 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987), the court ruled that a trial judge can schedule monthly payments consistent with the payor’s ability to pay when determining the amount and terms of alimony or child support arrears payments.
It is pretty clear however, that if the income withholding order was initially issued in a case, with the intent to have support payments paid from wages, then any subsequent arrears payments would be paid at the rate of 20%, and the court has no discretion to deviate from that amount.
The longer you go without collecting monthly support, the larger the arrears becomes, and the larger the arrears, the more difficult it becomes to collect. Call Attorney Alan R Burton at 954-295-9222, located in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Florida to enforce your rights and collect support arrearages that are owed.