This is the next article in my series on how Melbourne, Florida Courts deal with parents who do not pay their child support. My last article discussed that Courts can hold a parent in contempt for non-payment of support. It also stressed that the purpose of a contempt finding is to gain compliance with a Court’s order, and not to punish the offending parent. This article will be expanding upon that discussion by explaining the process of holding a parent in contempt. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
The first step involved with holding a parent in contempt of court is to file a Motion. The Motion will indicate the previously ordered amount of support, a detailed schedule of payments that have been missed, and efforts which have been taken to get the other parent to meet their obligations. The opposing parent will have the opportunity to file an opposition brief. A hearing will be held at which the non-paying parent will be able to make an argument as to why they should not be found in contempt. If the Court finds that the offending parent is in contempt, then the Judge will take the measures which they deem appropriate.
If the judge believes that a non-paying parent has been making a good faith effort then the Court is unlikely to require incarceration. The parent will, however, need to present a plan as to how they will get caught up on their payments. If it is clear that a parent is not making a good-faith effort to meet their obligations then the Court will often do one of two things. First, the Judge may give them a date by which they must be current on their support. The Court will then set a return hearing date to ensure that the payments have been made. Second, and in more extreme cases, the Court may simply incarcerate the offending parent. If the non-paying parent is sent to jail, they will still owe the outstanding support on release.
It is important to note that if a parent is not paying support due to the loss of a job then the Court will expect them to demonstrate what steps they are taking to find work. Also, claims of financial hardship, due to debt or other issues, may well fall on a Judge’s deaf ears if it appears that someone is prioritizing other expenses over their children. The sole issue which a finding of contempt will typically revolve around is whether or not the non-paying parent is making a good faith effort to become current with their payments.
If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne child support lawyer. I understand that this is an important issue in your life. My office is proud of the level of service which we provide in each and every case we handle. We look forward to speaking with you. I also service clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.