For most divorcing couples in Florida, the major battles end when the court enters the order and decree ending the marriage. The final order also sets terms for monthly payment of child support and alimony. What happens if the former spouse who is ordered to make child support payments defaults on this obligation? The default may trigger another battle between the former spouses about the needs of the children and the obligor spouse’s ability to make the required payments.
Personal steps to enforce payment
If a child support payment is at least 15 days overdue, the parent who is entitled to receive the payment may ask the clerk of court in the county where the divorce was granted to send a notice of delinquency to the defaulting parent. If the payments are not brought current within 20 days, the court may impose a lien for unpaid support against all property owned the county by the defaulting parent.
All child support payments in Florida must be sent to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) in Tallahassee. The SDU will then promptly forward the money to the parent who is entitled to receive the payment.
Hiring an attorney
Perhaps the most effective method for collecting delinquent child support, especially if more than a few payments are delinquent, is to hire an experienced family law attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can ask the court for various forms of relief, including an order holding the delinquent parent in contempt of court for violating the original order to pay child support. An attorney can also expedite the garnishment of the delinquent parent’s wages.
What can a single parent do?
A single parent who was never married to the child’s father can retain an attorney to enter a child support order against the father. If necessary, an attorney can also seek entry of an order determining the paternity of the child. Such an order is a necessary prerequisite to collect support payments from a man who denies paternity.