On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
Although Florida’s Department of Revenue employs numerous individuals in their Child Support Program department, most employees would agree that enforcing orders is borderline childish. Once two people bring life into this world, they’re both responsible for this child’s financial needs. Therefore, following parents around and smacking their hands when they fail to support their children is ridiculous.
However, some methods used by FDOR may be deemed overly cruel. But, are they really? An experienced Fort Lauderdale child support attorney often handles both custodial and noncustodial support needs; however, enforcement is generally done by FDOR or prosecutors if it gets criminal.
Let’s review several common enforcement methods by category.
Financial enforcement tactics
Normally, employers are given paperwork to deduct support payments from paychecks. This pretax deduction normally works, and nothing else needs enforced.
However, should someone take cash ‘under the table’ or work with employers that won’t comply with payroll deductions, it’s expected that payments get made where the FDOR suggests, like the courthouse. Now, when no payments are made due to willful noncompliance, the state will do financial damage to people.
For example, bank accounts will be plucked dry. Tax refunds get intercepted. Any properties owned outside of one’s residence could be forcefully sold. Boats, cars, backhoes and whatever else someone owns can be confiscated and auctioned. Once they’ve collected arrears, you’ll get what’s left over (if anything).
That’s after your past due amounts are reported to Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
Personal enforcement tactics
Once your finances have been upended, perhaps you’re still owing back support. Or, perhaps you’ve managed to evade any financial devastation. States are creative in putting people in dire straits when they’ve decided to not communicate with support office. Florida is no different, according to one Fort Lauderdale child support attorney.
For starters, kiss your driver’s license, professional licenses and any recreational licenses goodbye. They’ll get suspended after their initial 20-day suspension notice if you’ve not contacted the Program Office to work out payment arrangements.
That didn’t get your attention? Body attachments can put individuals behind bars until they’ve paid a ‘purge’ amount. That’ll go on top of court costs accrued for forcing court action in the first place. If one decides not to comply, now there’s a criminal misdemeanor on the table, punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine.
When all other methods of physical enforcement fail, and misdemeanors accrue (or obligor owes more than $5,000 in support over one year), now you’ve caught a 3rd Degree Felony, which carries up to five (5) years in prison. Yikes.
So, are these tactics ethical?
We revert to our opening paragraph.
Enforcement division would be essentially jobless if people complied with court orders. Out of spite, hatred for what many believe is a ‘broken system’ or plain stubbornness, people simply won’t pay child support if they feel it’s unnecessary or are mad because visitation is being denied (which is separate).
Children deserve the support of two parents. If one parent, who has child custody, is struggling to keep a roof over everyone’s head, while the other drives a new Mercedes back and forth to their oceanfront condo and pays no support, it’s ethical to strip the parent living large of their possessions and finances to help the struggling parent out.
All told, support enforcement should punish the willfully noncompliant – not the broke.