I started out as a child support attorney in the Attorney General’s office, representing the Department of Revenue. I learned so much from being a child support attorney, and wanted to share some of that information with my readers. Here’s what I think are the top five issues about your child support obligation.
1. You can’t waive child support.
All too often I hear parents agree that they will not pay each other child support, which is fine in a private world. The problem comes up when one of the parents goes to get public assistance and the Department of Revenue comes after the other parent for money. Have you heard someone say, “my baby’s mama put me on child support?” Sometimes, that’s very true and other times, the mother just needed some help and asked for food stamps. She did not realize that the Department of Revenue would try to get child support from the other parent. That’s just how it works.
2. For a case to really be closed, the judge has to sign an order that the child support stopped.
Even though Department of Revenue closes a case, the Court order still exists and the clock keeps ticking. Many times I hear someone tell me their case was closed. It’s true that the Department will close cases with the parents. However, when the Department reopens the case, the child support money has been ticking away month after month. The paying parent will get hit owing a whole bunch of money when the case gets reopened. Please be careful.
3. If you don’t pay through the depository, the money you send is considered a gift.
Paying through the depository can take a week or two from the time that one parent pays until the time that the other parent actually receives the money. This can be hard on the parent who just needs grocery money or school supplies. So, the paying parent, out of the goodness of their heart, will give money directly to the other parent to help out. Unfortunately, the paying parent will receive no credit for the money that was paid directly. Make sure you pay through the depository so you have a record of all of your payments.
4. Your driver’s license can be suspended for not paying your child support, and if the problem gets worse, you can be put in jail.
Your child support is due every thirty days. When you don’t pay for thirty one days, a computer spits out a notice that your driver’s license will be suspended. You have to either catch up on the payments or contest the suspension within twenty days of the notice. If you continue to have trouble paying, a Motion for Contempt can be filed, and if the court grants the motion, they can issue a writ for your arrest. The best way to clear the writ is to pay the purge.
5. An informal agreements between parents does not hold up in court.
An informal agreement falls apart when the parents start fighting. Lots of parents make informal arrangements to care for their children. For example, You start watching the child/children more and drop child support payments. As a practical matter, an informal agreement can be a quick solution to every day issues. However, when the two parents start fighting, the informal agreement goes out the window and the parents have to go back to the agreement in the Court order. It’s better to get the Court to approve the new agreement so they can enforce the new agreement if the parents start fighting.
In my opinion, these are the top five child Florida child support issues that are affecting so many people in our community. Hopefully, by having read my article, you can avoid these situations. However, if you are in one of these difficult circumstances, there may be a way out for you.