Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

If you are issued an order in a Florida court to pay child support, the adherence to this order isn’t voluntary. If you make the decision to avoid paying this support, you are doing so at a great level of personal risk.

Child Support

In fact, Florida law has several enforcements in place that penalize parents who don’t pay child support, which can range from monetary fines to time behind bars. Since going to jail is the most severe consequence related to not paying child support, noncustodial parents in Florida are advised to get to know the child support enforcement methods used in the state.

Unpaid Child Support Sanctions

If you owe back child support, the state of Florida treats this as a failure to adhere to a court-issued order and it is taken very seriously. The official, legal term for not obeying a court order is called “contempt of court.” If your child support is unpaid, the Child Support Enforcement Program or the custodial parent can request a hearing before a judge to ask that the noncustodial parent be found in contempt of court.

As the noncustodial parent, you will receive a notice that informs you that you must go to this hearing. At this point, you will have to stand before the judge and explain why the child support has not been paid. If you don’t attend, then the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

Not only can an arrest warrant be issued, Florida courts do this quite often. Once a warrant has been issued, you can be arrested at any time, regardless of if you are at home, work or even driving.

If you want to avoid time in jail, you have to go to the hearing and prove to the judge that you haven’t chosen to avoid the ordered child support payments deliberately. This will require that you provide evidence, and a family lawyer in Florida can help you with this process. You will have to be able to prove valid reasons for not paying the child support and explain why you never tried to modify the order after you realized you were unable to pay.

Other Consequences for Not Paying Ordered Child Support 

Even though jail time is considered the most severe outcome of failing to pay child support, there are other consequences you may face as well. Some of these include:

  • Fines
  • Suspension of your vehicle registration or driver’s license
  • Seizure of income tax refunds or bank accounts

If you are facing a situation where you are behind on your child support payments, it is in your best interest to contact a Miami family law attorney today. They can help you gather the information needed to provide evidence regarding why you were unable to adhere to the court-ordered payments.

For assistance, or to have your questions about child support payments answered, contact the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Aliette H. Carolan, P.A. by calling 305-358-2330.

Additional Reading:

Do You Have to Pay Child Support if You Have No Income?

What should I Do About Back Owed Child Support in Florida?

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