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Judge chastises prosecutors for child support actions

When a child support judgment is ordered, not following it can lead to problems such as wage garnishment, driver's license suspension and even jail. In Pensacola, if a parent is found to be in arrears of child support, it can also lead to the loss of the delinquent parent's passport. This is why it is important for any parent who is falling behind on child support payments to learn about the legal ramifications and, if possible, seek a child support modification to stave off any possible penalties.

A judge recently chastised child support prosecutors for following through on a delinquent child support case even though the allegations were proven to be false. The mother, who had just gone through a rather acrimonious divorce, filed an affidavit stating that the father was behind on his child support payments by $3,632.25. Based on that statement alone, and ignoring the father's proofs that the allegations were false, prosecutors sent the affidavit to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Because the amount in arrears was over $2,500, the past due amount was automatically reported to the federal child support office. They, in turn, reported it to the State Department; ultimately, this led to the father's passport being frozen. The father, who travels frequently to Latin America for work, was unable to work for several months.

On Jan. 8, a Miami-Dade judge ordered the prosecutors and the mother to pay the father $7,645 in legal fees and criticized the prosecutors for going along with what they knew to be a false claim. The prosecutors stated that, once they realized that no past due child support existed, they had attempted to amend the affidavit, but the judge was not convinced and made the order in favor of the father.

Although this is a rare case, it shows how keeping detailed records of any support paid can help prevent difficult situations or solve them more easily if they arise. No matter what the circumstances, it is vital that all parties involved in a child support dispute know where they stand legally so that the final judgment is fair to all involved.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Miami judge calls child support prosecutor's actions 'reprehensible'," David Ovalle, Feb. 7, 2013

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