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Unemployment and Child Support Payment Hardship

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-06-16 (Revised/Updated 2016-03-25) - Information for parents if unemployment has caused you difficulty making child support payments. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Findlaw PR.

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Quote: "For parents who are struggling to make payments though, it is important to remember that child support is a legal obligation."

Solutions for Parents Dealing With Child Support Payments in Tough Times.

High unemployment has caused many parents difficulty with child support payments. A look at what parents can do to enforce payment, and what those making payments can do to modify them.

Recent reports indicate that Florida unemployment rates declined in April for the first time in four years. Despite this positive news, unemployment (and under-employment) remains high. This has left many parents struggling to meet their child support obligations, and that means that many parents who rely on child support payments are struggling, as well.

Once a child support order has been approved by a court (generally as part of a divorce, separation, or paternity case), the state expects the payments to be made in full and on time. There are many negative consequences for parents who do not make their payments on time, including potential loss of driver's license and/or passport, a drop in credit rating, and even a lien on property (meaning a right to take the property away).

Many of these consequences could be devastating for the child as well as the parent, so it's important to ensure payments continue on time.

Enforcement Actions: If You Aren't Receiving Payments on Time

Parents who are not receiving payments on time have legal recourse. The child custody order is a court order and must be followed. Parents can employ the Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Enforcement service. This may include getting an Income Deduction Order, which allows the child support payments to be deducted directly from the non-paying parent's paycheck.

Alternatively, you can bring an enforcement action. In an enforcement action, the court can file a judgment against the parent who is not paying support which becomes a lien against real property such as a home or the Clerk of the Court may initiate an action to suspend the delinquent parent's driver's license.

It's important to remember that if you chose to appear in court or make court filings yourself, you are expected to follow the same procedures that a lawyer would follow. Therefore it is wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney if you have any questions about how to proceed.

Modification: If You Are Having Trouble Making Payments

Florida judges understand the difficulties facing many parents who are struggling to make their required child support payments due to loss of a job or other changed circumstances. Every day, courts across the state process applications by parents to modify their child support payments.

For parents who are struggling to make payments though, it is important to remember that child support is a legal obligation. You cannot simply hide your head and pretend that the obligation will go away. Judges can and do impose penalties on those who ignore their legal obligations.

Accordingly, the important thing is to attempt to have the payments modified before making payments on time becomes a problem. If you anticipate an upcoming change in your financial circumstances, talk to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your potential options.

You can file an application to modify a child support order with the Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Enforcement service. If, after reviewing the income of both parents and the needs of the child, the office determines that a modification is appropriate, they handle the court process for you.

Alternatively, you may file a Petition for Modification with the court that issued the original child support order. As is the case when a parent is attempting to enforce an order, all court filings and appearances must be in accordance with court procedures, so having the assistance of an experienced family law attorney will be helpful for many.

The Department of Revenue and the court clerks throughout Florida help parents every day with their child support problems and questions. Still, for people who are unfamiliar with the process, it may be very confusing. An experienced family law attorney can help navigate through the process to ensure that the obligations of the parents and the needs of the child are met.

Tamara K. Holden PA. Visit us at

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