What to Do if You’re Not Receiving Your Child Support or Alimony Payments, part 1

January 26, 2015

Ex-spouses and children of divorced parents often depend financially on the payment of alimony or child support. When a court order to pay child or spousal support is violated, it can cause severe financial problems. However, if you are not getting support payments, there are some mechanisms provided in Florida to enforce payment. A family law attorney may be able to help you receive your support payments from the payor by petitioning the court to employ one of several techniques to encourage payment.

Wage Garnishment

One option is garnishing the payor’s wages. Under Florida law, the court can garnish wages to pay spousal or child support. Garnishing wages means that before wages are paid, the payor’s paycheck is automatically deducted in the amount due for support payments and the funds given to the payee. Garnishment can happen on a periodic basis and can last for as long as the court deems necessary.

Suspension of License

Another enforcement option is suspending the payor’s license. There are several types of license that can be suspended. The most common is a driver’s license. If a payor is delinquent in payments for fifteen days, written notice of the delinquency, naming the amount owed, is mailed to him or her. The payor then has twenty days to do any of the following: (a) pay the delinquent payments, (b) enter into a written agreement for payment, or (c) petition the circuit court to contest the delinquency. If after twenty days the payor has taken none of these options, his or her driver’s license will be suspended indefinitely.

Additionally, the payor’s business, professional, or recreational license or certificate may be suspended. In that event, the payor has thirty days after notice is given to (a) pay, (b) enter into a written agreement for payment, or (d) petition the circuit court.

The court can deny a petition for the suspension of a license if the suspension would cause irreparable harm to the payor and would not actually serve to encourage him or her to pay the delinquency. The court can also decline to suspend a license if the payor makes a good faith effort to come to an agreement with the payee about making up the delinquent payments.

Withholding Tax Exemptions

Additionally, if a party has failed to obey a court order to pay child support, he or she may lose the federal income tax dependency exemption that he or she would otherwise have received for that child. In some cases, the exemption amount can be quite a significant amount of money. The court can order that the payee be allowed to claim the exemption either permanently or on a rotating basis.

If you are owed child or spousal support, the services of an experienced attorney can be invaluable in helping you to determine the most effective way to obtain your support payments. Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.