Florida businessman wrongly accused of not paying child support

A Miami-Dade judge has ordered both prosecutors and the ex-wife of a Miami businessman to pay $7645 each in legal fees for wrongly accusing the Miami businessman of owing child support.

The Miami businessman and his wife were involved in a bitter divorce and have a 6-year-old son together. In 2010, his ex-wife approached the State's Attorney's Office and filed a sworn affidavit which alleged that her ex-husband was late on his child support payments. It was later found through other filed documents that the affidavit was wrong. Despite this fact, prosecutors proceeded with the case and reported it to the Florida Department of Revenue. Further, in Tallahassee, any non-custodial parent who has arrears greater than $2,500 is automatically reported to the U.S. Depart of State and the department freezes the person's passport if one exists.

In the case of the Miami businessman, who was required to travel as part of his job, he was out of work for several months after learning his passport had been frozen. As a result of this case, the State Attorney Office has modified its internal policy regarding how it reports delinquent parents and now, rather than relying on an affidavit, instead waits for a court order.

A child support dispute between parents may arise anytime, stemming from various factors such as the loss of a job, increase in living cost, and other financial woes. For a non-custodial parent obligated to pay child support, sometimes an agreement modification relating to child support may be necessary. Otherwise, as the case above illustrates, there are consequences and the penalty for failure to pay child support can be severe, such as restrictions on one's right to travel, which may directly impact one's ability to work.

It is important for parents facing a child support dispute to consult with an experienced attorney in this area of law to understand the consequences of non-payment and analyze their options. With the help of experienced counsel, parents will be able to protect their own rights and interests while also providing for their children's needs to the best of their abilities.

Source: Miami Herald, "Miami judge calls child support prosecutor's actions 'reprehensible,'" David Ovalle, Feb. 7, 2013

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