Child Support Enforcement in Florida

Are you not paying your court-ordered child support in Florida? Bad move. Failure to pay child support can have very serious consequences. If a parent is able to pay child support and is simply purposely not paying it, they can be found to be in contempt of court. This is a serious offense and may involve jail time. Failure to pay child support can also negatively affect an individual's credit score and can cause liens to be placed on their property.

Deciding not to pay child support can carry serious consequences and is usually not advisable. If a parent's circumstances have changed or there are reasons affecting their ability to pay, it is typically best to apply to the court to modify an existing support order. Failing to pay a child support order altogether is a failure to follow a court order which can result in serious consequences, including criminal ones.

Taking Action for Unpaid Child Support

If a parent needs to file a case against another parent who is not paying child support, the first step is to contact their local child support office. Through the Department of Revenue, they can often get parents to pay their child support, and if not, they can file a case for a hearing. Hearings are heard in front of hearing officers, who are not judges, but who can render recommendations to the judge as to how they should rule on the child support case.

The Department of Revenue will begin by filing a what is known as "Motion for Contempt." In this type of case, the hearing officer will determine whether the parent willfully failed to pay child support.

Child Support from Out of State Parents

If one of the parents has moved out-of-state, it is still possible to enforce a child support order. A parent cannot simply move out of state in order to avoid having to pay child support. This is due to a federal law known as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which has been adopted in all 50 states. Under this law, if a parent has moved out of the state where a child support order was first entered, no other state can change the order if either of the parents or the child for whom the support was meant to benefit still lives in that state.

Below you will find other relevant information regarding child support in Florida.

Agencies

Florida Dept. of Revenue- Child Support Program

Florida Attorney General- Child Support Enforcement Bureau

 

Penalties

If it is found the parent willfully failed to pay child support, they can receive the following penalties:

  • Suspension of a driver's license or vehicle registration;
  • Pay a fine;
  • Bank accounts may be seized;
  • Income tax refund may be seized;
  • Jail or prison time.

If a hearing officer finds the person willfully failed to pay child support, the officer can send their recommendation to the circuit judge in the form of an order for the judge to sign. From there, the parties get a limited amount of time in which to challenge the recommendation. Otherwise, the judge will sign the order and the appropriate punishment will be ordered, if any.

Florida Codes and Legal Research Options


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Additional Resources

If you have additional questions about Florida's child support laws, click on the following links:

Free Case Review

Florida's child support laws can be complex. If you are not receiving child support payments that are owed to you or have other issues related to child support in Florida, then the best thing that you can do is to talk to an experienced attorney. Start by getting a free case review at no obligation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.