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What happens if you are unable to make child support payments?

Of the many new realities that a person will be forced to confront in the wake of a divorce, none is perhaps more jarring than having to move out of the family home and adjust to a parenting plan. A close second, however, will be having to adjust to the new financial obligations imposed by a divorce.

Indeed, chances are good that you have been ordered by the court to pay alimony and/or child support. Regarding the latter, the legally binding order establishing the child support obligation will set forth everything from the amount owed and the frequency with which the payments must be made to the location to which payments must be sent and other key conditions. 

While circumstances can arise that make payment of these child support obligations difficult, if not impossible, it's important to understand that any failure to pursue a modification through the appropriate channels -- meaning underpayment or the failure to make child support payments -- can result in the Florida Department of Revenue utilizing one of the many enforcement mechanisms at its disposal.

Will these enforcement actions be taken if a person is late on just one payment?

The more serious enforcement actions, which we'll discuss in greater detail, likely wouldn't be taken initially. Indeed, one or more late payment notices will be mailed to the delinquent parent.

In the event the situation is rectified promptly, no further enforcement action will likely be taken. However, if the missing child support is not paid or payments continue to be missed, the Department of Revenue will likely take more drastic measures.

What about driver's license suspension?

The Department of Revenue can send a notice to a delinquent parent requesting that they come into a local office to discuss ways of paying down their child support arrears and enter into a written agreement, or else face possible driver's license suspension.

Indeed, the delinquent parent has 20 days from the date of the notice to pay the amount owed, enter into a written payment agreement or file a motion in circuit court to contest the amounts owed. Failure to take any of these actions during this 20-day timeframe will result in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suspending their driver's license and the mailing of a notice alerting them to this action.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post, examining driver's license reinstatement and some of the other child support enforcement tools available to state officials.

In the meantime, if you have questions about child support modifications or enforcement, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options.

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