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Orlando Child Support Attorneys
A child support arrearage occurs when one parent is not meeting his or her child support obligations. Additionally, a child support arrearage may accrue when the parties separate and one party does not pay child support to the other party. Even though no court order is in place, child support may still be owed by one parent for the care and support of the minor children. In cases where child support is not being paid, a child support arrearages can be sought for up to two years prior to the date of filing a paternity action or an action for dissolution of marriage. For example, if the Husband and Wife live separate and apart for 4 years prior to filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and neither party pays child support, the child support arrearage would only go back two years prior to the filing date.
If there is no court order in place and the parties are separated, it is imperative that the party paying child support earmarks those payments as child support. For example, if the child support is paid via check, the memo line should indicate that the payments are specifically for child support. In divorce and paternity cases, courts routinely fail to give one parent credit for the payments made because the payments failed to indicate it was for child support. Additionally, we routinely see one parent claim that the payments were for spousal support or other expenses, rather than child support. Without specifying that the payment is child support, many courts consider the payments gifts and will not give the payor credit.
Once child support is ordered, the Clerk of Court and the Florida State Disbursement Unit work together to track child support arrearages. Typically, an income withholding order is entered for child support and alimony obligations, which deducts the payments directly from the payor’s paycheck and pays the funds to the payee through the Florida State Disbursement Unit. It is important to note that the Florida State Disbursement Unit may take a month or two to establish a new child support account, which may result in your account showing an initial arrearage. If this occurs, you need to file a motion with the court showing that you made all the previous payments and instructing the Disbursement Unit to correct the arrearage. Failure to do so could result in suspension of your driver’s license and other adverse consequences.
If there is an actual arrearage in place, most courts will order that you repay the arrearage at a rate of 20%. For example, if your monthly child support obligation is $800 and you owe an arrearage for ten months or $8000, most courts will order that you pay $160 per month towards the arrearage (20% of your underlying child support obligation).
There are many methods for enforcing and collecting child support arrearages. The Dewitt Law Firm is experienced in addressing child support arrearage matters. We have handled many cases enforcing arrearages and correcting records that demonstrate arrearages that are overstated. If you have an issue with child support arrearages, a suspension of your driver’s license because of unpaid child support, or other child support issues, please contact us to see how we may be able to assist you