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Florida father criminally charged for not paying child support

A rarely used and little-known law has resulted in the arrest of a Florida father for willfully refusing to pay his court ordered child support. The 34-year-old father of two boys plead no contest to the charges earlier this month and received a sentence of five years probation and 25 hours of community service, but that is not all. Per the terms of the father's probation, a circuit court judge required him to pay $550 per week in child support payments and pay $69,542.88 is back child support he owes.

The judge decided to withhold adjudicating the felony charge at the time of his sentencing. The father, who is employed as a salesman, has the option to buy off the community service time for $250 or $10 per hour. He must also pay $415 in court costs and is required to notify the state of Florida within three days of a change in employment.

The mother of the man's two children was tired of going to family court complaining about the children's dad not paying his child support so she did some homework. She got a contempt order explaining how her ex-husband continually refused to pay the child support that a family judge determined was affordable based on the man's earnings. She informed local authorities of a state law that makes refusing to pay child support a felony.

Local court clerks in Martin and St. Lucie counties said the law is so rarely used they believe that the "willful failure to provide dependent support" while apparently having the ability to do so is the first of its kind in these two counties. Court records show that since 2003 only two people in Indian River County have faced the same charge, which is considered a third-degree felony carrying a maximum of five years in prison, if convicted.

Child support can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. When the person charged with paying child support has a change in their economic status, which could be affected by an illness or disability, or a loss of employment or reduction in pay, it is possible to petition the court to have support orders reviewed for modification. It can be very beneficial to consult with an experienced family law attorney to learn what the requirements are to effectively demonstrate a change in circumstances to the court to reduce or modify a child support or alimony order.

Source: WPTV News Channel 5, "South Florida father forced to pay child support under rarely used law," Paul Ivice, July 19, 2012

Busciglio & Sheridan Law handles a variety of family law issues, including divorce, child custody and support cases as well as modification and enforcement requests.

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