A recent news report revealed some inaccuracies in the Florida Department of Revenue’s recordkeeping of child support payments. Several individuals required to make child support payments through the Department of Revenue and who claim to be current have received letters from the Department stating that they owe back payments. It was unclear from the report whether the mistakes are related or how many individuals are receiving letters from the state in error. In one case, the Department indicated a date was entered incorrectly and that staff were undergoing retraining to ensure the problems are not ongoing. Another individual, whose payments are deducted directly from his paycheck, stated that he never receives a receipt from the state, so he is continually worried that the state does not know he is making payments.
In a separate news report, Western Union announced that Florida residents can now pay child support in cash through their Child Support Payment Service at the over 2,400 Western Union outlets in Florida, as well as the 37,000 around the country. Rather than making payments to the State of Florida, those individuals required to pay support can make a cash payment up to $5,000 via Western Union by providing the custodial parent’s last name, the eleven-digit case number, and the county number. The transaction requires a $3 fee. If nothing else, this service should provide an additional means of verifying that child support payments were in fact made in the event that there is a mix-up in the Department of Revenue.
Failure to pay child support in Florida can result in serious consequences. Under Florida law, all parents have the responsibility to provide for the financial support of their children until they reach the age of 18. This support goes to provide food, clothing, shelter, and other basic needs of the child. Parents who do not live together can obtain a support order from a court or the Department of Revenue establishing which parent will pay support, as well as the amount of the support. Enforcement of support orders is the job of the Department, in conjunction with the courts, law enforcement, other Florida agencies, as well as other states all of which share information on the location of noncustodial parents.
If a non-custodial parent has a job, the child support payments are deducted from that parent’s paycheck. It is the responsibility of the parent to inform the Child Support Enforcement Program and the court if he or she changes jobs. Deducting the payments directly from the paycheck ensures that the non-custodial parent pays the full amount.
There are many avenues of enforcement available to the Department when a noncustodial parent’s support is in arrears, including:
- suspension of fishing, hunting, driving, professional or business licenses;
- interception/seizure of assets, including federal tax refunds, Florida lottery winnings, unemployment payments, and bank and credit union accounts;placement of liens on houses, land, mobile homes, cars, boats, and other valuables;
- finding of contempt of court with accompanying fine or jail time;
- issuance of an arrest warrant;
- negative reporting to credit bureaus;
- federal criminal prosecution;
- suspension of vehicle or vessel registration;
- denial of application for a passport.
If you wish to seek a new support order for your child or a modification of an existing order or have any other questions with respect to child support, the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. can assist you. Mr. Cunha is an excellent attorney with a client review rating of 5 out of 5 “Preeminent” on Martindale-Hubbell. We serve clients in Hendry, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie Counties. Feel free to call us today for a consultation at (561) 429-3924.