FL man Erroneously Accused of Failing to pay Child Support

On behalf of The Law Offices of Cindy D. Sackrin posted in Child Support on Monday, February 18, 2013.

Recently, a Florida man discovered that he had been stripped of his passport following his ex-wife's allegation that he had failed to pay the requisite support for their children. The woman alleged that her former husband owed approximately $3,632 in delinquent child support payments. When it turned out that the man had been wrongfully accused of failing to pay child support, a court ordered the prosecutor's office and the former wife to pay $7,645 for the cost of the man's legal fees to defend the allegation. The judge called the actions against the man "reprehensible" and "irresponsible."

Despite the fact that the man demonstrated that he was not delinquent in his monthly child support payments, the prosecutors continued with the case and the freezing of his passport hindered his ability to travel for work. Prosecutors have decided not to appeal the judge's ruling, though they maintain the merits of the case. The case has prompted internal changes within the prosecutor's office. Moving forward, delinquent child support will not be reported as such based solely upon an affidavit signed by the former spouse; prosecutors will await a court order to initiate such action.

In Florida, the State Attorney's Office, through the Florida Department of Revenue, enforces the payment of child support. Prosecutors are empowered to collect delinquent child support and monthly child support payments according to the 1984 Child Support Enforcement Act. Prosecutors have the ability to serve a parent owing child support with papers requiring the parent to meet with the prosecutor to develop a payment agreement. The papers may indicate that if the parent fails to meet with prosecutors, jail time can be imposed on the parent.

When a parent is delinquent on child support payments, several types of measures may be available to government officials who often represent custodial parents in situations when support is owed. Jail time is typically only imposed, based on a contempt of court order issued by the court, when no other options are available. This is because it is anticipated that by placing the parent in jail, the parent will be less productive and less able to make monthly payment obligations on a support agreement. Other possible penalties for failure to pay child support may include wage garnishment, the withholding of tax refunds to pay outstanding support, the seizure of property, suspension of a professional or business license, revocation of a driver's license or confiscation of a passport.

For parents who are experiencing difficulty making monthly payments, child support modification options may be available. Consequences for failure to pay child support can be serious, so it is important for a parent in such a position to seek available options as soon as possible.

Source: Miami Herald, "Miami judge calls child support prosecutor's actions 'reprehensible" David Ovalle, Feb. 7, 2013

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