Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

When a party falls behind on Florida support payments, he or she may be held in contempt of court. When this happens, usually the party is ordered to become current on support payments within a certain amount of time. Additionally, an amended income withholding order may be entered which allows for extra amounts to be taken from the obligor’s paycheck to satisfy any arrearage and/or attorneys’ fees amounts. This is what happened in the recent Florida family law case Moore v. Holton, 2D18-2672 (Fla. 2d DCA April 12, 2019).

The former husband was found to be behind on payments toward alimony, child support and attorneys’ fees. An income deduction order was entered which instructed the former husband’s employer to deduct 65% of the former husband’s disposable income for payment toward his past-due amounts. An income deduction order is one which is sent to the employer of a party ordered to pay support which obligates the employer to remove the support amount from the party’s paycheck and send the payment to the State Depository. This may be optimal for parties who do not want the hassle of writing checks each month and/or want the State to monitor payments.

In this case, the order did not specify how much of the 65% was going to be apportioned to the past-due alimony, child support and attorneys’ fees amounts. On this ground, the appellate court reversed, holding, “Section 61.1301(1), Florida Statutes (2018), sets forth items that a trial court imposing an income deduction order must specify, including that arrearage amounts are to be deducted at twenty percent or more of the periodic amount set forth in the order establishing the obligation. Neither the judgment upon which this income deduction order is based nor the order itself provides any indication of how the arrearage amounts and the original obligations are to be treated in relation to the total percentage deducted. It is therefore impossible for Mr. Moore to know from the face of the income deduction order whether or how the deduction is applying to each arrearage and each original current obligation. And the income deduction order is likewise insufficient to provide any future payor or court tasked with the enforcement of the order under section 61.1301(2) with the requisite information to apply the deduction amount to the arrearages and the current obligations in a way that consistently adheres to section 61.1301. Entering the income deduction order without this information was error because, without more specificity, Mr. Moore will be unable to determine how much each obligation (current and arrearage) is affected when income is deducted or when his obligation to pay the arrearages has expired.”

The entry of an income deduction order may be useful in your Florida alimony or child support case. Schedule a consultation with a Miami divorce lawyer to understand how such an order may be beneficial to you.