As noted in a recent family law article, there is an obvious difference between a non-custodial parent who tries to but simply cannot fully satisfy child support obligations and a parent who can make payments but is flatly determined not to do so.
Differences in the abilities and motivations of parents with child support duties to pay what is owed make a uniform approach in dealing with them both illogical and unworkable.
As stated in a U.S. News & World Report piece, a punitive action such as jailing a non-paying parent in Florida or elsewhere can certainly be carried out, but the rationale for doing so seems fatally undercut when that person simply doesn’t have the money to pay. And garnishing prison pay “won’t get you very far,” notes the article.
Conversely, trying to patiently reason with or otherwise cajole a recalcitrant non-performer with the ability to pay can be equally unavailing in the absence of enforcement mechanisms with real teeth.
A fundamental recommendation offered up in cases of non-payment in the first instance and prior to heavier judicial guns being employed is to simply keep the non-custodial parent involved in the kids’ lives. The obvious rationale for that: An involved parent is far more likely to stay involved, care and pay than one who is shut out via denial of visitation and other parental rights.
If good-faith personal efforts aren’t working, though, and payments over time simply aren’t coming in, judicial remedies might simply have to be invoked.
An experienced Florida family law attorney can discuss with a client what those remedies are. There are myriad possibilities, ranging from a jail term and loss of driving privileges to wage garnishment and other punitive measures.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “What to do when your ex won’t (or can’t) pay child support,” Geoff Williams, Nov. 20, 2013