If a spouse doesn’t pay child support or alimony, then the proper recourse is to initiate contempt proceedings. The easiest way to enforce a child support or alimony order is by garnishing the wages of the payor through the use of an income withholding order.

Sometimes the income withholding order process doesn’t have much use because a person is self-employed or unemployed. Under those circumstances, it might be necessary to collect the outstanding child support and alimony due by seizing the other’s person assets such as bank accounts, investments accounts, automobiles, etc. An effective lawyer is one who has a good knowledge of the laws regarding collection and enforcement actions.

Under certain circumstances, a person who doesn’t pay his or her child support or alimony can be incarcerated. The law regarding incarcerating someone related to failure to pay support is unique and specific to family law cases.

The Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure contain a very detailed procedure for civil contempt proceedings which is unique solely to family law proceedings. At the hearing on the Motion for Civil Contempt, the Court must first find that the party had proper notice of the hearing and has willfully failed to pay all or part of the support owed. If the Court makes such findings and finds the person in contempt then among the sanctions it can impose is incarceration. The Court will set a “purge” amount. This amount is set by determining the person’s present ability to pay. The Court can order that the person be put in jail and only released upon the paying of the purge amount. As an alternative the Court can delay incarceration and order that the person pay the purge within a set period of time. If the person doesn’t pay the purge amount, then the Court will issue a writ of bodily attachment (which is akin to a warrant for the person’s arrest). Having some incarcerated for the non-payment of alimony or child support is not an easy task and the Courts are reluctant to do so unless you are able to prove the necessary facts to show that incarceration is appropriate.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Child Support

  • My spouse works overtime frequently, does the Court consider this overtime in determining child support?

    If the overtime is regular, continuous and likely to occur in the future, then yes, it is included in determining the amount of child support.

  • I don’t trust that my spouse is going to pay the child support , can it be taken from his paycheck?

    Yes, if you request it, the Judge will sign an Income Withholding Order which will be sent to the employer who then will garnish the wages for the child support.

  • My parents and friends often give me money, does the money that I receive count when determining child support?

    Generally no, the money you receive from third persons is not included in the child support calculation. However, there are cases that provide that regularly occurring gifts which are likely to continue in the future are counted as income for purpose of child support.

  • My employer provides me with a free company car that I used all the time. How does this impact the child support?

    The value of the personal use of the company car is included as income for purposes of child support.

  • I pay child support for children of a prior relationship, how does this affect the child support I will pay in my current divorce?

    If the child support you pay for the children of a prior relationship is actually paid, then this amount will be deducted from your income in determining your child support in your current divorce.

  • I pay for my children’s health insurance, does this factor into the child support calculation?

    Yes, the amount one parent pays for the children’s health insurance is factored into the child support calculation.

  • My children attend day care, which I pay for, how does this affect the child support?

    If the children are attending day care because you are working, looking for work or going to school, then the amount that you pay for day care is factored into the child support calculation.

  • My children are involved in extracurricular activities such as dance and football. How does this impact the child support that my spouse pays?

    Generally, the cost of extracurricular activities is not included in the child support calculation. However, often times the parties will agree or the Court will order that the parties split the costs of extracurricular activities in addition to the child support that is paid.

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