Experienced Lawyers Assist with Modification & Enforcement of Support Actions in Tampa, FL
Skilled courtroom representation for payers and recipients
A support order, whether for child support or alimony, remains in effect regardless of any changes in the payer’s financial situation. Other factors, such as the child reaching the age of majority or the death of a spouse receiving alimony, automatically trigger a termination of support. But a parent ordered to pay child support who simply cannot make the payments must return to court and request a modification of the order. Otherwise, despite any informal agreement the supporting person might reach with the recipient, the order remains in place and can be enforced at any time. Sessums Law Group represents payers and recipients in actions to modify or enforce support orders. We understand how important a fair determination is to your financial well-being. We take decisive steps to ensure the court bases its decision on the true financial circumstances of the parties involved.
When can a paying parent seek a modification of a support order?
Florida family law requires that a “substantial change” must occur in a party’s financial circumstances before the court can entertain a change in a support order. A substantial change could occur when the supporting parent encounters financial difficulties, such as long-term unemployment, or, for the purposes of alimony, when the recipient remarries.
In child support cases, the courts look to the state guidelines as the “basis for proving a substantial change.” The rule is that when the court applies the guidelines to the new circumstances, the result must be a difference of “at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater.”
In alimony cases, the person receiving support need not remarry; the person paying alimony can request a modification if the ex-spouse has entered a “supportive relationship.” Thus, a recipient cannot simply forego the technicalities of remarriage to keep the alimony coming in. Facts that support a finding that a supportive relationship exists, such as a common address, joint bank accounts, pooled assets, and valuable services rendered, can open the door to a modification or termination of alimony.
Enforcement of support orders in Tampa
Orders for child support and alimony have the force of law. For child support, the Florida Department of Revenue has a variety of services to ensure payment, including a variety of enforcement measures that include:
- Late payment notices
- Income withholding
- Driver license suspension
- Business, professional or recreational license suspension
- Federal income tax refund intercept
- Florida lottery winnings seizure
- Workers’ compensation benefits garnishment
- Personal property liens
- Garnishment of wages
- Passport denial
Most instances of unpaid child support are due to parents who can’t afford the payments or those who, unwisely, refuse to pay because of conflicts over visitation. In those cases, a mediated solution is often possible.
Alimony is another story. Ex-spouses often fail to pay alimony simply because they think they got burned in their divorce and they resent paying alimony. When that happens, a recipient can file a complaint with the court. If the court finds the payer has the ability to pay but simply refuses, charges of civil or criminal contempt of court are possible. That person can be jailed until the alimony is paid, and the court can order a number of collection mechanisms to ensure future payments.
Contact our family lawyers for support modification and enforcement actions in Tampa
Sessums Law Group represents Florida clients throughout the Tampa Bay area in actions to modify or enforce child support and alimony orders. We are determined to help you obtain a result that protects your financial rights. Please call 813-435-5058 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our Tampa office.