Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I'm Incarcerated in Florida?

If you’re facing criminal charges in Florida and you’re sentenced to jail or prison, there are aspects of your personal life that you’ll need to tend to. You’ll have to take care of your house or apartment, your pets, your job, your debtors, your auto loan, and if you have children under the age of 18, you’ll have to make sure they’re cared for.

If you’re a noncustodial parent who pays child support, that’s going to have to be addressed too. But if you are incarcerated, will the local child support agency find out? Will your child support payments automatically stop until your release? While many offenders wish it worked that way, it doesn’t. Not even close.

What Happens to Child Support

Incarceration is in the world of child support a lot like a sudden job loss. If you lose your job, it does NOT relieve you of your child support obligation. Same goes for incarceration. Just because you’re convicted of a crime and sent to jail or prison, you’re not off the hook for child support. So, what is a noncustodial parent to do?

Under Florida law, a child support order can only be changed if there’s been a “significant change in circumstances.” Clearly, being locked away for some time would qualify as a significant change in circumstances, but the offender has to notify the family court of the change and promptly. Otherwise, he or she will have to pay the full child support obligation without regard to the interruption in employment.

If you are sentenced, my advice is to immediately notify the court that issued the existing child support order and file what’s called a Motion to Modify Child Support.While the court may not rule on your motion until afteryour release, any payments due after the motion was filed can be subject to a downward modification if the requirements are met. But without such a motion, there is no way for the court to go back and make any adjustments.

Next: Can a Conviction Affect My Professional License?

Facing criminal charges in West Palm Beach? Contact my firm today.


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