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What Does It Mean to be in Arrears?


As part of every paternity case or divorce involving children, the court will order one parent to pay child support to the other in order to cover the child’s living expenses. If the parent paying child support misses payments, cannot pay, or refuses to pay support it is called being in arrears. Florida law provides legal options to collect child support if a parent falls into arrears on their payments. To learn more, call or contact the law office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa Bay today to schedule an initial consultation.

Court Imposed Penalties

The court may impose penalties on the parent in arrears in order to compel payment of back child support. If a parent refuses to pay their arrears or refuses to submit to a payment plan ordered by the court, the judge in the case can order that the parent serve up to 180 days in jail or until the parent pays the amount ordered by the judge. Other penalties imposed by the court for a failure to pay owed child support include the following:

  • Suspension of a driver’s license
  • Loss of license plate
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Loss of vehicle registration
  • Loss of hunting and fishing licenses, and
  • Seizure of funds for repayment

Options for Collecting Unpaid Child Support

There are many options for collecting unpaid child support through the courts and with the help of the Florida Department of Revenue. The easiest option is to establish a repayment plan with the court and the Department of Revenue to pay back the owed child support over time along with current support payments. If a parent cannot adhere to the repayment plan or refuses, the court can order the seizure of funds from bank accounts, tax returns, lottery winnings, and more.

A judge can order that income be withheld from the paycheck of the parent in arrears. An income withholding order requires that the employer of the parent withhold a percentage of each paycheck and send it directly to the custodial parent, bypassing the parent in arrears altogether. Another option is to impose liens on the real estate and personal property of the parent in arrears. Liens make it nearly impossible to sell property, as the amount of the lien must be paid from the proceeds of the sale before any profits are collected by the seller. As a final resort, the court can order that a parent’s property be forfeit and sold at a sheriff’s auction to cover the amount of child support in arrears.

Talk to Our Office Now

Your child deserves to be supported by both parents, so if a parent is in arrears with their child support in Florida there are options for repayment. Call the office or contact us today at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III to speak with a knowledgeable Tampa family attorney and schedule an initial consultation of your case.





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