Generally, both parents share the financial responsibility of raising their child. When the parents are not living together, family law judges in Florida, and elsewhere, often order child support awards to ensure that noncustodial parents continue to provide that support. As court orders, there are enforcement procedures and tools in place at both the state and federal levels to ensure that parents fulfill their financial obligation for their children.
The first method used to enforce child support orders in the state of Florida is income deductions. According to the state’s Department of Revenue, employers must, by law, deduct payments from the paychecks of parents who have been ordered to make child support payments. While it is up to parents to notify the court and the state’s Child Support Enforcement Program if they change jobs, the state also obtains new hire information from all businesses in the state for the purpose of finding out where noncustodial parents who have child support orders are working.
While the courts may be willing to work with parents who fall behind on payments because of unavoidable circumstances, such as the loss of the job, there are severe penalties that can be levied against any parent who goes into arrears, particularly if they do so willfully. Legally, parents can face serious consequences. Judges may find parents who neglect to pay their child support in contempt of court, which could result in large fines or jail time, as well as issue arrest warrants. In some cases, the federal court may choose to prosecute parents on felony or misdemeanor charges of nonpayment.
Beyond the legal ramifications, according to the Office of the State Courts Administrator, parents who are behind on child support could be subject to a driver’s license suspension, in addition to the suspension of their professional or business licenses, or of their hunting and fishing licenses. The state can also suspend the registration on their vehicles and vessels. Furthermore, in some cases, liens may be placed on parents’ vehicles, vessels, property and other items of value until they have paid their owed support.