In Florida, the non-payment of child support comes with many consequences. Not only do you face contempt issues with the court and the many sanctions the court can impose for contempt, you can also face suspension of your driver’s license and any business, professional or recreational licenses you have.
These include licenses issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Bar, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. If you hold a business, professional or recreational license with any state agency, that license can be suspended for non-payment of child support.
How is the license suspended?
Under Florida Statute 409.2598, the child support program, or Department of Revenue (DOR), first mails the parent that is behind on payments a notice of intent to suspend their license and requests the parent to visit a local office to discuss the options for paying the child support. The notice must comply with the statute and must notify the parent of the following:
- The parent is not in compliance with a child support order
- Whether the non-compliance is due to non-payment of current support, delinquent or arrears payments, or the failure to provide health care coverage or medical support
- The kind of license that will be suspended
- The options the parent has to avoid the suspension, which must be complied with within 30 days of the notice of the mailing of the notice
Once the letter is mailed (not received by the parent, but mailed by the department), the parent has only 30 days to take one of the following options:
- Pay the past-due amount in full and stay current with all future payments
- Sign a written agreement with the DOR office to make payments on the past-due amount owed
- Contest the suspension action by filing a petition in the circuit court
If none of these actions are taken by the parent owing child support within 30 days, the Child Support agency then notifies the licensing agency to suspend the parent’s business, professional or recreational license.
How to avoid your license being suspended
You can avoid your license being suspended by complying with one of the three options mentioned above.
If you pay the amount owed in full, the proceeding ends and your license will not be suspended. However, you must stay current with your support order or the process to suspend your license will begin again.
If you go to a local Child Support (DOR) office and enter into a written agreement or payment plan for the amount owed, the proceeding ends and your license will not be suspended.
If you enter into a written agreement with the department, you must stay in compliance with the written agreement and stay current with your ordered support or the DOR will notify the licensing agency to suspend your license for non-compliance with the written agreement. To avoid the suspension, you must advise the department you are no longer able to comply with the written agreement.
If you do not tell the department you are unable to comply, it will notify the licensing agency to suspend your license.
If you do notify the department that you are unable to comply with your written agreement, then you must provide to the department a full financial disclosure, including a list of your income, assets and employment. After you provide your disclosure, you and the department will negotiate a new written agreement. If, however, a new agreement cannot be negotiated, you or the department may petition the court to determine the matter.
The final option is to file a petition in the court contesting the license suspension. If you file a valid petition contesting the suspension, the suspension of your license is stayed (or paused) while the action is handled with the court. You can contest the suspension of your license for the following reasons:
- A mistake of fact concerning your compliance with the support order
- The reasonableness of a payment agreement offered by the department
- The identity of the person ordered to pay
If the petition is timely (filed within 30 days of the mailing of the notice) and contests one of the above stated reasons, the court must have a hearing on the petition with 15 days after the petition is filed. The court must then enter an order, or rule on the petition and the suspension of the license, within 10 days of the hearing.
If the court finds your petition valid, the proceeding ends and your license will not be suspended. However, if the court does not find your petition valid, it will order the suspension of your license and the department will resume notification to the licensing agency to suspend your license.
How to reinstate your license after suspension for non-payment
If you pay the amount owed in full, or enter into and comply with a written, negotiated agreement with the department after your license has been suspended, the department must provide you with a reinstatement notice of your license and the licensing agency must reinstate your license at no charge to you.
If your license is reinstated by court order after petitioning the court, the licensing agency must promptly reinstate your license after receiving a copy of the court order. It may be up to you to ensure the licensing agency receives a copy of the court order reinstating your license.
If you are facing a suspension of your business, professional, or recreational license due to your child support obligations, contact Olivero Law as soon as possible for a consultation. Our compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorneys will stand by your side and protect your best interests throughout the proceedings. Olivero Law can help you when you need it most. Our firm also handles criminal, misdemeanor, and felony cases on the state and federal level. Contact our office by calling us at (813) 654-5777 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your consultation.
Shiobhan Olivero was born and raised in Plant City. She has been practicing as an attorney since 2010 and has a local office in Brandon.