Under Florida statutes, child support payments must be sent to the Florida State Disbursement Unit (FLSDU) in Tallahassee and, typically, these payments are automatically deducted from the parent’s paycheck. The FLSDU then distributes the money to the receiving parent, either by check or by direct deposit into a bank account.
In Pinellas County, the judge presiding over the divorce may order instead, only if both parties agree, that support payments be sent directly by the paying parent to the receiving parent. Such a do-it-yourself arrangement may be appealing to the parties because it skirts of bit of bureaucracy and reduces processing fees — but what if you are receiving direct payment of child support, and the payments stop coming? In that case, the system is there to step back in and get the situation under control, like parents revoking privileges from no-longer-trusted teenagers.
The first step is simple: The receiving parent submits an affidavit to the court (with a copy to the payer) alleging that the payer has defaulted and requesting an order for future payments to be made through the governmental depository. The new arrangement will go into effect in 15 days, with the clerk of the court monitoring the payments.
If the payments still do not come, the clerk issues a Notice of Delinquency to the payer, who has 15 days to either pay up or request a hearing to contest the delinquency. If neither of these occurs, the non-paying parent is subject to a judgment that may include:
Accrual of interest on unpaid amounts
Automatic deduction from paycheck, workers compensation or unemployment payments
Liens on the parent’s car, boat, or other property
Delinquency reported to credit agencies
Filing of a civil lawsuit
Issuance of an arrest warrant
Clearly, the state takes child support obligations very seriously. Whether you are the paying parent or the receiving parent, it is wise to seek legal advice before a default situation gets out of control.