Generally, child support is put into place to with the intent of providing for the proper care and upbringing of a child. In a recent case, it appears that a Florida father was trying to avoid support obligations for his five children.
Recently, the unemployed man and the mother of his five children, all under age eight, allegedly left the three youngest children home alone while they went to get married at a local courthouse. Sources say they did this so that the father could avoid making monthly child support payments. Police were notified of the situation by the couple’s neighbor, who was asked by the children’s mother to watch out for the two older children returning home from school. Though they were at the courthouse to be married, the parents ended up spending the night in jail, each charged with felony child neglect.
Child support enforcement is governed by the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984. In cases where there is an existing child support order, the Act allows prosecutors to intervene and pursue a non-paying parent in order to collect child support. Prosecutors are empowered to assign penalties to parents who do not comply with a child support order, which may include withholding federal tax refunds to use the monies to pay child support, garnishing wages, seizing the parent’s property, suspending a business or occupational license, like a teaching license, or revoking their driver’s license.
As a last resort, prosecutors can seek jail time for the nonpaying parent by holding the party in contempt of court. As child support is intended to provide for the children’s needs, this measure is only taken after all other alternatives have been exhausted, since, if a nonpaying parent is put in jail, it is even less likely that they will make monthly payments
Historically, child support was left to parents to arrange; however, today, child support orders are issued by Florida courts based on specific guidelines. Although in the recent case, the father sought to avoid his child support obligation altogether, in cases where a child support order is in place, there are resources available to parents who seek to enforce the order against their former, nonpaying spouse.
Source: examiner.com, “Couple jailed for leaving toddlers home alone while they got married,” Richard Webster, Sept. 9, 2012