The Florida child support system is designed with the children’s best interests in mind. And while this is a good thing, the system is unfortunately still flawed. All to often, parents are assigned with child support demands that they simply cannot meet. Being unable to make your child support payments is overwhelming, and can impact your whole life and wellbeing. But there are solutions available to you. Michael M. Raheb is a family lawyer dedicated to what’s best for you. If you’re a parent who needs to pay child support in Naples, FL, we’re here to help you fight what might seem like an impossible battle.
Common Reasons Why Parents Struggle with Child Support Payments
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 7,256,000 custodial parents were due child support in 2018. However, only 3,290,000 (or 45.3%) received the full amount. What does this mean? That your situation is not at all uncommon! Many well-meaning non-custodial parents want to care for their children and yet they simply cannot pay all the child support demands required.
Parents who can’t pay child support are often labeled as neglectful. But as an experienced family law firm, we know that’s often not the case. Many times, the financial burden of child support collides with all of life’s other financial demands to create a desperate and confusing situation.
Below are some common reasons parents are unable to pay any or all of their child support:
- Additional children to support. Many times, child support demands do not take into consideration other children you might need to support.
- Changes in your situation. Child support requirements are initially determined by your income and financial reports provided at that time of your divorce. However, your circumstances can change overnight! According to Very Well Family, the most common changes that affect the financial capabilities of non-custodial include:
- Changes in income
- Medical expenses
- Additional costs associated with raising the child as he or she grows
For example, you could get in a car accident and be facing exorbitant medical bills. Or, you could lose your job and go months without the income you had before! Or, your child could be diagnosed with an issue that requires expensive therapy or medical treatments.
What are the Penalties of not Paying Child Support?
Regardless of why you can’t pay child support, it’s important to start taking action towards a solution as soon as possible. The penalties of not paying can be very serious.
According to HG Legal, willfully failing to pay child support can be a federal crime in some circumstances. Additionally, the crime can be federally prosecuted if child support is past due for longer than 12 months or if it exceeds $5,000. A violation of this law is considered a misdemeanor and includes a maximum penalty of six months in prison, plus fines. If the child support is overdue for longer than two years or the amount unpaid is $10,000 or more, the crime is considered a felony, potentially resulting in up to two years in prison plus fines.
It is also a federal crime for a person to cross state lines or flee the country to try to avoid paying child support that is at least one year or $5,000 past due.
Florida state law allows for child support debts more than 30 days late to be reported to a credit agency until the outstanding child support amounts have been paid, according to Legal Zoom. Also, failure to pay child support on time in Florida can result in suspension of your driver’s license or inability to renew your license. The state may also place a lien on the noncustodial parent’s car or other property, which prevents the owner from selling or borrowing against the property.
What Solutions are Available to You?
It’s important to remember that you do have the right to request a modification in child support demands due to changed circumstances. Keep in mind that it is far better to request a modification due to changed circumstances than to fail to pay child support. It’s also better to pay as much of your child support as you can instead of not paying any.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that there is help available to you! You’re not alone as you fight for fairness and better opportunities in your child support situation. At the Law Offices of Michael M. Raheb, we care about what’s best for you and your children, and we’re dedicated to making it happen! Get clarity and get results.
Call us at 239-226-0888 or contact us online.
The Law Offices of
Michael M. Raheb, P.A.
2423 First Street,
Fort Myers FL 33901
Fax Number: 866-949-0888