What to Do When Child Support Payments are Missed

Court House

While a divorce process can be challenging for the parents, it is even more difficult when children are involved. For the majority time-sharing parent, raising children on one income can be a huge challenge. To alleviate this problem, many majority-time-sharing parents receive child support payments from the other parent. This helps provide a solid upbringing for the children. Moreover, Florida law considers child support the right of the child and it cannot be waived by either party. Even if retroactive child support is owed passed the age of majority, the adult child may have the right to pursue the unpaid child support directly from that parent. Child support agreements have the power of law and, unfortunately, sometimes the non-custodial parent does not comply with the orders of the judge. When this happens, there are options for the custodial parent to force compliance with the child support agreement.

Government Options to Force Child Support Agreements

If child support payments are missed, the first option every majority time-sharing parent should try is to talk with the other parent to figure out why the child support payments are missed. There might be some confusion regarding the payment amount or schedule and it is important to remain on good terms for the sake of the children. When this does not work, every state has a department that is dedicated to the enforcement of child support agreements. These departments can provide assistance to parents who are not receiving their child support payments and to non-custodial parents when they have financial troubles that cause problems for the child support payments. Some of the services that the parent who is owed child support can explore include:

  • Talking with liaisons who can get in contact with other states if the non-custodial parent moves
  • Discussing with bank officials to remove the child support funds directly from the other parent's bank account
  • The possibility of placing liens against the property of the non-custodial parent including cars and houses
  • Filing a report with major credit bureaus regarding the missed child support payments, leading to penalties with the credit score
  • Possible suspension or revocation of the non-custodial parent's driver's license
  • Removing other sources of income such as tax refunds or lottery winning as child support payments
  • Withholding the primary source of income from the parent's paycheck through a discussion with the non-custodial parent's lawyer. Thisi can be done through an Income Withholding Order.
The Court System

If these indirect methods do not work, the parent who is owed child support can always take the case to court. The judge could find the non-custodial parent in contempt of court. This means that the non-custodial parent has not been in compliance with the ordered arrangement under the child support agreement or court order directing him or her to pay child support. The non-custodial parent could be fined or even placed in jail until the payments are made. This might sound like a severe measure, but sometimes this is the only way to force the child support payments.

Visitation Rights Should Not Be Withheld

Many custodial parents think about taking measures into their own hands by withholding the visitation rights of the other parent until the child support payments are made. This should never be used as a bargaining chip. Remember that the visitation rights are also ordered by the court and withholding visitation places the parent in violation of this agreement as well. Never withhold visitation as punishment for missing child support payments. A court will not look favorably upon a party who withholds the child as a sort of punishment or consequence for failing to pay child support. That is not in the child’s best interest, as a child benefits from spending quality time with both parents, regardless of what is happening with child support.

** Note: This article is not meant to be taken as any form of legal advice. This is purely informational. For questions please contact your attorney, or contact Vilar Law directly.

Article updated October 23, 2020.

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