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What Happens If I Miss a Child Support Payment?

If you miss a child support payment, you immediately incur debt and risk potentially serious legal consequences if your debt goes unpaid for long enough.

If your child support payment is 15 days past due, the Clerk’s Office may send a Notice of Delinquency. This notice not only demands payment for the past-due child support amount, but it also adds fines for the delinquency. If the delinquent amount and fines aren’t resolved within 20 days, the court may impose a lien against your home or other property you own.

Your Ex May Enforce the Child Support Order

When you have any amount of child support debt, your ex (or the person to whom you owe child support payments) can file a petition asking the court to enforce the child support order.

This can result in enforcement actions such as the following:

  • An established payment plan you must follow by an additional court order
  • Wage garnishment
  • Income earnings withholding
  • Interception of tax refunds
  • Interception of lottery winnings
  • Interception of workers’ compensation funds
  • Liens against personal or real property
  • Levy and forced sale of personal property

There are other enforcement actions that a court may impose to ensure that child support debt is satisfied. Consult with an attorney to learn more about how these might impact your legal situation.

Can I Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

Yes. Failure to pay child support is a misdemeanor crime in Florida, and the court can impose a one-year jail sentence for delinquency. That said, the court may not utilize this option unless it believes a person who owes child support is willfully failing to pay it.

You can avoid criminal suspicion, however, by consulting with an attorney as soon as you become aware that you can’t afford your child support payments anymore. You are responsible for paying the original child support amount that the court ordered unless you successfully file a modification to match your current income level.

Remember: Child Support Debt Doesn’t Go Away Unless You Pay

The only way to get rid of child support debt is to pay it off. It doesn’t expire, even when your child turns 18. This is because any unpaid amount of child support represents payment that the other party should have received when your child was still a minor.

Bankruptcy courts also won’t consider child support debt for discharge – this means that the only way to deal with this debt is to pay it off. Consider filing a petition for a modification if you are unable to afford child support.

Consulting with an Attorney Can Help

Whether you are already past due on child support or anticipate it in the future, consulting with a child support lawyer can help you mitigate the potential consequences. Our attorney at Beatriz Zyne, P.A. can offer the legal support you need at this time. Reach out to us at any time to learn more about how we can help.

Get started now by contacting our firm online or by calling (305) 876-6138 today.