Situations change and individuals can go through unexpected periods of financial downturn. Losing your job, having a medical emergency in your household, and many other similar events can make it difficult to cover your bills. In such times, you may also struggle to make your court-ordered child support payments.
The court orders a certain amount of child support based on your situation at the time of the ruling, and the courts do not attempt to anticipate your future financial circumstances. Therefore, if you lose income or your other expenses increase, it is understandable that paying child support may become challenging or even impossible in the future. Unfortunately, failing to pay child support can have serious consequences in Florida, but you have legal options to try to make your child support more manageable to avoid these consequences.
Possible Actions Against You
The Florida Department of Revenue has a Child Support Enforcement team that can take various actions if you are not making your payments on time. This department can take the following actions against you:
- Wage or bank account garnishments
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Suspension of a professional or business license
- Interception of your tax refund
- Interception of any lottery winnings over $600
- Withholding of a certain amount from worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits
- Liens on your personal property
- Reporting the late payments to your credit bureau
- Disallowing you from receiving a passport
- Requesting that the civil court enforces the order and hold you in contempt if you do not comply
- Seeking assistance from the Office of the Inspector General to impose fines and/or jail time
Child Support Modifications
Fortunately, you have other options when you cannot pay your child support than simply facing the above consequences. If you have had a substantial change in circumstances, Florida law allows you to petition to court to modify the amount of support ordered in light of the change. This will require you and the other parent to go back into court, however, and the other parent will have the opportunity to argue that the support should not be lowered. Additionally, you should note that, if you have quit your job or are underemployed by your own choice, the court will likely not approve a modification. However, if your new circumstances are beyond your control, you will likely be eligible for a modification so that you can resume making payments.
Call an Experienced Boca Raton Child Support Attorney to Discuss Your Situation
If you realize that you cannot afford to pay your full child support payments, you should never simply stop paying and ignore the situation, as that can result in serious, often irreversible consequences. Instead, your first call should be to a qualified family lawyer who can help you explore your options for making your payments more manageable. Attorney Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton understands Florida laws and how to best apply them to your situation to protect your best interests. Please call our office for assistance at 954-229-1660 to learn how we can assist you.