Millions of dollars owed in unpaid child support

In a divorce, separation or split-up with children, the custodial parent is entitled to child support from the non-custodial parent. Child support guidelines vary from state to state. Despite the law and guidelines, non-payment or underpayment of child support is on the rise. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement estimated that nationwide more than $100 billion is owed to custodial parents and recent U.S. Census Bureau data reports that only 40 percent of custodial parents actually receive all the child support monies they are due.

In Florida alone, the Florida Department of Revenue estimates that more than half a million parents are due child support. Thousands of these cases have been reviewed to determine if they should be forwarded to the State attorney for consideration for criminal non-support actions.

Florida uses a specific statute to determine the amount of child support payments. When determining the amount of child support payments, the law takes into account factors such as the amount of overnights each parent spends with the child. In the current economy, circumstances for families change and an increase or decrease in child support payment may be warranted. It may be important to get a legal opinion on a person's particular situation to avoid the penalties of non-payments such as suspension of a driver's license and even jail.

Some other factors that are taken into account in child support amount modifications include the incomes of the parents, health insurance cost for the child, education costs and childcare costs. It is important that the non-custodial parent is not taken advantage of and denied time with child in an effort to get more in child support payments. Similarly, the custodial parent must not be taken advantage of by the non-custodial parent by refusing to pay child support. Thus, for parents facing child support issues such as non-payment or those contemplating a modification for a decrease due to circumstances, may want to seek expert advice to understand their rights and obligations.

Source: WPEC-TV, "Florida's Deadbeat Dads Owe Millions In Unpaid Support," Scott Smith, Nov. 9, 2012

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