Whether you are concerned about child support in Florida or child custody in Florida, (technically known as time-sharing now) oftentimes these concerns go hand-in-hand. On a certain level, it makes sense these concerns would be related. Usually, you are dealing with the same parents, the same offspring, and the same court ordered parenting plan, so it makes sense that people co-mingle the two. Unfortunately, Florida views child custody and child support as separate and mutually exclusive entities. In this post, we will discuss two scenarios that illustrate why child custody and child support are mutually exclusive entities in Florida.
1.No Kid/No Cash: One typical scenario involves a custody situation where one parent does not allow the other parent to see his or her child during the times laid out in the parenting plan. This violates the court order, and as such, the courts have remedies to ensure the parenting plan is enforced. However, far too often, the parent who is being denied their time-sharing will start withholding child support payments. It is certainly understandable why a parent might take this drastic measure, but this is also contemptuous and can lead to serious consequences. In Florida, failure to pay child support could result in:
- Your driver’s license, hunting license and/or fishing license being revoked
- Assets could be seized
- Wages could be garnished
- A lien could be put on your home, car, boat, etc
- You could be arrested and, ultimately, thrown in jail
Even if you are being denied the right to see your child, do NOT stop paying your child support. File a motion with the court to have the parenting plan enforced. Yes, it may seem like if you cut the other parent off financially, you will get results faster. However, while it is wrong for that other parent to withhold your child from seeing you, the consequences of working outside the legal system (as outlined above) are far worse. We understand the delay is frustrating and can even be heart-wrenching, but always go through the proper channels.
2. No Cash/No Kid: This scenario is the reverse of the previous one. Here, one parent decides to stop paying child support for whatever reason: he or she took a pay cut, got laid-off, just did not feel like it anymore, etc. Much like in the previous example, if you are not receiving the child support payments in accordance with a court order, you must file a motion with the court. You cannot unilaterally decide that if the other parent is not paying child support, then you will prevent time-sharing. If you decide to do this, you can end up in a very bad situation, as well.
Granted, denying visitation does not have the same penalties as failing to pay child support in Florida. Usually, if you are found to have denied visitation to the other parent, then you will likely have to make up those days later in the year; you may also have to pay attorney’s fees, as well. Depending on how long you denied visitation, this could add up to a lot of days. These makeup sessions, now mandated by the court, could greatly upset you and your child’s weekly routines. (For more information on calculating visitation, there is a free overnight calculator here). However, the biggest consequence of denying visitation could be if the other parent petitions the court to modify the child custody agreement. Denying visitation could hurt your chances of upholding the existing child custody agreement, and you could end up with a new child custody agreement that is more favorable to the parent that was denied visitation.
So before you decide to deny visitation, think about the potential consequences. First, the other parent wants to see the child, so it is unlikely he or she is going to leave the country or go into hiding. Why is this important? It means the courts can find this person and start to levy all the heavy penalties listed above. Yes, it may take some time but you will get the money owed to you or the other parent will (most likely) go to jail. Either way, if the other parent is willing to go to jail rather than pay you, it is unlikely denying them visitation would help you get paid either. Therefore, do not put your current child custody agreement at risk by taking matters into your own hands. It’s contemptuous, probably ineffective and could easily cause more harm than good.
As attorneys, discussing Florida child custody and child support law is definitely not the most fun-filled topic we blog about, because we know the anguish and turmoil that generally surrounds those who need this information. However, many people in our community need the answers provided in this post; they just do not know where to find it. Please help us get the word out by sharing it on your social media accounts. With a couple clicks of the mouse, you could provide some incredible help to someone who really needs it.