In Florida, there are few occasions where failure to meet a court ordered obligation is actually punishable by contempt. Failure to pay court ordered child support is one of those obligations however that is punishable by contempt. That means that if a parent is ordered to pay child support by a court of law, and they fail to meet their obligation, the judge may hold them in contempt of court. If a parent is obligated to pay a certain amount of child support per month, it is presumed by law that the parent has the financial ability to pay that amount of child support that had been previously ordered. If that presumption is not rebutted, the judge may likely hold that parent in contempt. If a parent with a child support obligation, or “obligor,” is found to be in contempt of court, the judge may order that parent to pay a certain amount of money towards their child support within a certain time frame or they might put that parent in jail.
Frequently, how this works is the judge will order the obligor to pay a certain support amount by a certain time. This amount is called a “purge.” For example, if the obligee is $10,000.00 behind in their child support obligation, the judge may order them to pay $2,000.00 within 7 days in an effort to get them caught up in their child support. If the $2,000.00 is not paid within the 7 days, the judge just might send that parent to jail until the amount is paid. In this example, the $2,000.00 would be the purge amount. Someone is said to have “purged themselves of the contempt” by paying the full amount required. In an effort to catch the obligor up all of the way and get them current in their support, the court will often require that additional monthly payments be made on top of the regular child support amount as well.
As attorneys representing individuals who are owed chid support, we always request that the parent in contempt of court reimburse our clients for their attorneys fees and costs. It is not their fault that the other party is behind in their child support. These attorneys fees are meant to cover the expense of having to go through the contempt process in the first place.
If you have any questions about child support, or feel that you need help in this area or any other area of family law, divorce, or paternity, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Makofka & Makofka, Attorneys at Law. Serving northeast Florida. Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, and Baker Counties. (904)355-2700.