In Florida, if a parent does not pay their court ordered child support they could likely find themselves behind bars. However, it has been my experience, as a Jacksonville Child Support Lawyer, that the court sees imprisonment for non-payment of child support as the last alternative.
For instance, to put a non-paying parent in jail the court must:(1) Find that the parent is willfully failing to pay the ordered child support amounts, (2) make the affirmative finding that the non-paying parent possesses the ability to comply with the purge amount and (3) put the above two requirements in a written order.
You may ask what exactly is a purge amount. Well, A purge amount is an amount of money that must be paid toward child support arrearages in order to avoid going to jail for contempt of a support order. Because punishment is not the purpose of civil contempt proceedings, a court must allow the contemnor (person in arrears of ordered support) an opportunity to “purge” himself or herself of contempt.
The court must decide how much money the contemnor can reasonably pay toward his or her child support arrearage. Frequently, the court will set a purge amount at a sum much less than the total amount of the child support arrearage. When the purge amount is less than the total amount of the child support arrearage, the contemnor will be required to first pay the purge amount and then make periodic payments towards the remaining arrearage.
Contact a Jacksonville Child Support Lawyer today if you are worried you may be found in contempt of court for non-payment of child support or if you are seeking to hold a party in contempt of court.