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What Happens if I Miss One Court-Ordered Child Support Payment in Orlando, FL?
Parents are legally obligated to support their children financially regardless of whether they remain a couple. Florida utilizes standard child support guidelines to calculate child support payments.
You must pay court-ordered child support obligations in Florida. If you miss one court-ordered child support payment, it begins a collection process. The result could include jail time, fines, and other penalties.
What Happens If I Miss a Child Support Payment in Orlando, FL?
A notice of delinquency is issued 15 days after you miss a child support payment. The notice is an official warning of your overdue payment.
If you do not catch up on the child support payment after receiving the notice, the state takes additional action. After 20 days of non-payment, the state begins to assess penalties.
Past-due child support payments are called arrears. Child support arrears do not have a statute of limitations. Therefore, the state can collect child support arrears for as long as necessary to obtain the back payments.
The state can take several actions to collect past-due child support payments, including:
Garnishing your wages
Seizing bank accounts
Placing liens against the real estate you own
Seizing assets from your probate estate after your death
Taking tax refunds
Entering a judgment that accrues interest
The state may impose one or more penalties for non-payment of child support in addition to the above collection efforts. The state may suspend your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and license plate for child support arrears. It could also revoke professional and business licenses and suspend your passport.
Non-Payment of Child Support in Florida Could Result in a Felony Offense
If you continue not to pay your child support obligations, you could face a felony offense.
A court may find you guilty of felony child support delinquency if:
You owe $2,500 or more in child support arrears
You are four months or more behind in child support payments
You have a prior record of a conviction for non-payment of child support
You are accused of trying to flee the state to avoid paying child support arrears
The court could sentence you to jail or prison if you are convicted of contempt of court for felony child support delinquency. Depending on the circumstances, the judge might give you a short time to pay the past-due child support payments. If you are served with a motion for contempt for failing to pay child support, it is imperative that you talk with an experienced Orlando child support lawyer.
What Should I Do if I Miss a Child Support Payment in Orlando, FL?
You can try to protect yourself by paying something. Even if you cannot pay the full child support payment, pay as much of it as possible. It shows the court that you are doing your best to meet child support obligations.
Contact an Orlando child support attorney about a modification of your support obligations. If you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances, it could justify modifying your payments. A modification could lower your child support payments to an amount you can afford.
Reasons for modifying child support include, but are not limited to:
Your income has decreased because you lost your job through no fault of your own
You are expecting a baby or a new child support order
You become seriously ill or injured and cannot work
You are deployed for military service or have a change in duty stations that impacts your income
The modification of child support depends on the circumstances in your case. Typically, it could take several months to obtain a modification order. Therefore, it is wise to seek legal counsel as soon as you realize you cannot afford your child support payments.
Why Are My Child Support Payments Too High for Me to Pay?
The Florida child support guidelines calculate the base amount of child support based on the parent’s net income and the number of children to be supported. Health insurance and childcare costs are added to the amount. The total is divided between the parents based on their incomes.
A judge can deviate from the base child support amount up or down by five percent. The judge must explain why they are deviating from the amount in the court order.
If your child support payments are too high, your income may have been miscalculated or overstated. There could be other problems with the calculations. Talk with an Orlando family lawyer immediately about your legal options to lower child support payments.