U.S. marshals arrested a 45-year-old Florida resident who was tens of thousands of dollars behind on child support payments. The Safety Harbor resident was arrested on January 23, 2015, and was charged with several crimes, including failure to pay up to $120,000 in back due child support payments. The mother of his child reportedly now lives in Maine and has been seeking payments from the man for years.
Both Florida and the Federal Government take child support violations very seriously, and those who fail to make payments face potential criminal charges and other penalties. Federal law requires states to give full faith and credit to orders [Child Support Orders] from other states. U.S.C.A. Const. Art. 4, § 1. This man was charged with a Class E federal crime, which applies to individuals who fail to make payments in excess of $5,000 for a period of more than two years. If convicted, he could be fined up to $250,000 and spend up to two years behind bars.
The defendant allegedly failed to make regular payments for more than ten years, according to an affidavit filed by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services special agent. During this time, the mother made continual efforts to enforce the terms of the child support agreement. Initially he was required to pay $258.16 per week beginning in 2001, but this figure was reduced to $243 in 2006. He made only sporadic payments for years, despite earning an annual salary of $282,844. In 2012, he made his last payment after a Hillsborough County judge threatened him with jail time. Thereafter, payments ceased entirely.
Both parents are expected to contribute to the upbringing and support of their children. The Florida Legislature has determined that each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child. §61.29(1), Florida Statutes; Martland v. Arabia, 987 So. 2d 118 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008). When one parent fails in this obligation, the other has the right to file a petition with a court to enforce the terms of the child support agreement. If the parent is found to be in violation, the court may take a number of steps to arrange payments. If the delinquent parent proves uncooperative, the court may issue an arrest warrant.
If your former partner fails uphold his or her obligations under a child support agreement, you do have legal options. For more information, consult the knowledgeable Florida family law attorneys at the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.