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Collecting Child Support From Self-Employed Parent


As technology continues to change the types of jobs available and in demand, people are becoming more accustomed to working in a number of freelance positions that lack the consistency and security of employment in the past. This constant state of flux, both in terms of when and how much a person will work and earn, can present challenges to parents seeking to collect child support. The needs of a child do not stop because a self-employed parent is between jobs, but tracking where a person works and getting a company to enforce a child support order are likely to be more difficult since companies generally do not want to invest resources in a non-employee. Further, being self-employed, income is self-reported, which makes it harder to know if it is accurate. Self-employed individuals also have an easier time claiming business deductions for what are really personal expenses that further reduces the income reported as available to pay child support. Thus, the parent seeking child support can face two challenges when trying to collect payment from a self-employed parent: figuring out how much they really earn, and determining whether they are manipulating the numbers to hide available financial resources. A discussion of some practical and legal options to address this complicated situation will follow below.

Practical Methods to Obtain Asset/Income Information

Since the biggest obstacle for parents trying to collect child support from someone who is self-employed is ascertaining how much he/she truly makes and where assets are located, the parent seeking payment will need to get creative and tenacious about tracking the other party’s associations and spending habits. Gathering information about a person’s professional memberships or how often he/she goes on vacation or buys a new car can be useful to show the parent has more financial resources than claimed. Further, the parent looking for child support from a party that frequently moves between positions will need to keep pressing to speak with someone who knows how much the parent receives in compensation, and how often he/she does work for a particular entity, which can then be used against him/her in an enforcement action. Certainly, all of these efforts take a lot of legwork and time, which is bound to lead to frustration. One way to avoid personally taking on this responsibility is to hire a private detective who has the knowledge and resources to track and verify this information. While this step will require an outlay of money, it could well be worth the cost if child support is overdue into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Legal Options to Collect Child Support

The normal legal options of wage garnishment or income deduction orders are unlikely to yield any result in this situation. Instead, parents receiving support will need to look to placing liens on personal property and real estate, freezing financial accounts, and subpoenaing documents, such as customer records, to show how much revenue is being collected. Experienced family law attorneys will know how to analyze customer or other financial documents to detect intentional mischaracterization or shifting of income to avoid paying child support. This information can then be used to file a contempt of court action, which will force the delinquent parent to make a good faith effort to catch up, or face potential jail time. Other legal remedies may also be available, and an experienced family law attorney can advise as to what a parent can do in individual cases.

Speak with a Florida Family Law Attorney

Child support is never an optional obligation, and if you are struggling to receive regular payments from an ex-spouse or partner, the attorneys at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. have the knowledge and resources to help you. With a background in forensic accounting, our Fort Lauderdale legal team has the skill to track and identify hidden sources of income to get you the money you are entitled to receive. Contact us for a free consultation.


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