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What are methods of child support enforcement in Florida?

Child support orders are legal orders that establish a parent's obligation to pay child support. A child support order contains the amount of child support that is owed, how frequently child support is owed, as well as additional terms. Child support orders are important for both paying parents and child support recipient parents.

There are a number of methods that the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) uses to enforce child support orders. The DOR may send notices for income withholding to employers or other parties the parent who owes child support receives income from. Child support that is owed will be withheld from the paying parent's wages or other form of income. Additional enforcement measures may include garnishment by banks and financial institutions, interception of tax refunds, workers' compensation benefits, liens placed on property belonging to the parent owing child support and negative credit reporting.

Another potential enforcement measure includes license suspension. In circumstances of license suspension, the parent who owes child support will be mailed a letter that their license and registration may be suspended. The parent owing child support has 20 days from the date on the notice to respond and pay the child support owed, work out a written agreement to repay unpaid child support or contest the suspension in court. If the paying parent fails to take any of the specified actions, their license will be suspended and reinstatement fees may apply.

Business, professional and other types of licenses may be suspended as well for failure to pay child support. A written notice that the business or professional license of the parent owing child support may be suspended is mailed and the parent who owes unpaid child support has 30 days from the date the notice was sent to pay the unpaid child support, work out a written agreement to repay unpaid child support or to request a hearing. If the parent owing unpaid child support fails to take any of the specified actions within 30 days, the DOR will make a request to the licensing agencies to suspend the parent's license. Parents owing unpaid child support may also be denied a passport or passport renewal.

Child support can be an important concern for both parents paying child support and parents who receive child support. It is important for parents to keep in mind that while child support enforcement measures are available to ensure the collection of child support, the family law process provides options for parents seeking to collect child support, as well as parents having difficulty paying child support.

Source: Florida Department of Revenue, "Enforcement of Child Support Orders," Accessed Oct. 7, 2015

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