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What to Do if I Cannot Pay Child Support?


If you were ordered to pay child support to the other parent of your child but can no longer afford the monthly payments, the worst thing you can do is just stop paying.

Once a Florida court ordered you to pay child support, making these payments is not optional. You cannot just stop making payments all of a sudden, even if you cannot afford to pay.

If you can no longer continue to pay the ordered amount, contact an Orlando child support attorney immediately to explore your legal options. Possible consequences of not paying child support in Florida can be severe. That’s why you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to avoid being held in contempt of court.

What happens if I stop paying child support?

Nothing good. Bad things can happen if you stop paying the ordered amount of child support in Florida. As provided in Section 61.14, Florida Statutes, you can be held in contempt of court for your failure to pay support to the other parent.

If a parent is held in contempt of court in Florida, they could end up behind bars. A parent could be ordered to serve jail time until they pay the amount due in addition to any legal and court fees associated with an enforcement action.

Other penalties for non-payment of child support include:

  • Fines
  • Suspension of a driver’s license, passport, or professional license
  • Wage garnishment
  • Seizure of bank accounts or tax refunds
  • A lien on personal property and assets

What can you do if you cannot pay child support?

If you were ordered to pay child support, you must abide by the order and make payments. However, there are situations in which a parent may be unable to continue paying child support.

For example, how can you pay child support if you lose your job or experience a substantial reduction in income? If this happens, you should file a motion to modify the child support order.

It can be difficult to prevail on a modification motion in Florida, which is why it’s essential to have a skilled modifications attorney on your side. Under Section 61.13, Florida Statutes, the party filing a motion to modify child support must demonstrate proof of “a substantial change in the circumstances.”

While the involuntary loss of a job may constitute a substantial change in circumstances, the parent who was ordered to pay child support but lost their job must prove that they made reasonable attempts to find a new job.

Contact a child support attorney right now

If you cannot pay child support for any reason, it’s always better to pay at least something than nothing at all. If you pay nothing, you are more likely to be held in contempt and may face the negative consequences for failure to pay.

If you are not able to make child support payments, do not hesitate to speak with an attorney to help you file a motion to modify the existing order and avoid the penalties for non-payment of child support in Florida. Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Greater Orlando Family Law to discuss your particular case. Call at 407-377-6399.

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