One of the most difficult struggles a divorced mother can face—outside of the actual divorce itself—is when a child’s father refuses to pay child support. The fact is, child support is a legally enforceable court order, and it is against the law for your child’s father to neglect the required payments.
Failure to receive child support can severely impact the lives of you and your children. Child support is painstakingly calculated based on factors like your income, the father’s income, the custody arrangement, and the best interests of the child. Without those payments, it is likely you will not have the resources you need to properly provide for your kids.
When your child’s father fails to pay the required child support, it becomes necessary for you to seek legal recourse. A skilled family law attorney—particularly those who understand the unique struggles women face in divorce, such as the attorneys at the Quick Law Group—can help you bring the case before a judge in order to seek enforcement of the original child support order.
Fortunately, there are a number of potential remedies that can be used to recover unpaid child support. We have detailed some of the most common below:
Wage Garnishments – Garnishing wages means the state will seek to take the unpaid child support payments directly from your ex’s paycheck before he even receives it. If he is currently supporting a new spouse or children aside from you and your children, the state can take up to 50% of his wages for unpaid child support. If he is not supporting a new spouse or children, they may take up to 60% of his wages. For support that is over 12 weeks late, they may garnish an additional 5%. A judge may also order income withholding to ensure that your ex continues to fulfill his child support obligations after the unpaid support is recovered.
Driver’s License – The State of Florida may deny the child’s father from renewing his driver’s license if he has unpaid child support. They may also suspend his license until the full child support debt is fulfilled.
Report to Credit Agency – An unpaid child support debt that is at least 30 days old could be reported to an outside credit agency who will work to collect the debt. This could have a serious impact on the father’s creditworthiness and be a strong motivating factor to ensure the fulfillment of support obligations.
Lien on Car or Other Property – The state could choose to place a lien on a vehicle or some other form of real property, meaning that property is used to cover the debt and your ex will be unable to sell that property until he repays what is owed.
Withhold Money Owed By Government – If the child’s father is owed money by the state, such as lottery winnings or a state tax refund, Florida may withhold this money as payment for back child support. The federal government, too, may collect overdue child support from tax refunds owed.
Contempt – When it is clear that your child’s father is willfully ignoring a child support order and refusing to pay, much harsher penalties can be imposed by the state and even the federal government. The punishment will be left up to the courts based on the specific circumstances of your case, but it could include severe fines, modification to a custody order, and even jail time.
If the person court-ordered to pay child support attempts to flee to another state in order to avoid paying, your attorney can seek to have your child support order domesticated in that state, meaning the state will recognize the order and use their own approved methods to collect the unpaid support.
Unpaid child support is a severe matter, and it is essential that you move quickly to seek legal assistance at the first sign your child’s father may not pay. There are strong and effective legal remedies available to help you recover the child support you are rightfully owed. The attorneys at Florida Women's Law Group will do everything in our power to ensure that your support orders are enforced and that you and your child have the resources you need to live the life you deserve.