What Should I Do If I Am Behind on Child Support?
When a parent who is obligated to pay child support starts to make partial payments or completely fails to meet any of the financial obligation, you may become overwhelmed as the numbers begin to increase and are unsure of what actions to take. If you are behind on child support payments, whether a recent development or this obligation has been neglected for months or years, contact a Tallahassee Child Support Attorney today. We can discuss with you, the options available to you and the steps you will need to take in order to attempt to avoid criminal and civil penalties.
If you are behind on child support the first thing you must do is not stop paying all together. If you fail to pay your child support, you can be held in contempt of court and face both civil and criminal penalties. For instance, you may have you driver’s licenses suspended, defaults reported to credit agencies, pay checks garnished, tax refunds withheld, have liens placed on your properties, bank accounts may be seized, or the court may order you to pay a fine or serve jail time. Therefore, even if you cannot afford the full payments, it is important to at least make partial payments while you take further legal action. If you are able to display to the court that you were still attempting to financially support your child, with the money available to you, there will be less room for a willful contempt argument and the possibility of penalties will likely decrease.
While making partial payments, you must file a motion with the court to modify your existing child support payments. In order to request a modification of a child support order, you must show there has been a substantial, unanticipated, and permanent change in circumstances, since the initial order of child support was determined. Such changes may include a significant injury impairing your employment ability, or a loss of job. However, this involuntary loss of job alone may not be enough to support a modification. You must show the court that upon unemployment, you attempted to find equal employment with similar pay but were unable to. Many courts are reluctant to alter child support payments without proper substantial showing; therefore, it is crucial to come before the court with the necessary evidence to prove your case, such as job rejections, interview attempts, and the employment you have currently obtained with lesser income. Without the necessary evidence, the court may impute income to you, meaning hold you to the income you were previously making, and refuse to adjust the child support payments. However, if you do prove your case, the court will recalculate the proper child support award and also provide you with a plan to repay the arrears you incurred during the time you failed to pay or were only making partial payments.
At the first sign that you may not meet your child support obligation or if you have fallen behind on child support for a great deal of time, contact a Tallahassee Child Support Attorney today. We will be able to review your case, and discuss the options available to you in order to protect your rights.
Speaking to an attorney at our Tallahassee office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.