Sometimes parents fail to pay support as previously ordered by the court. Child support orders can be enforced through motions for contempt and enforcement against the nonpaying parent. When such a motion is filed, the moving must prove that a support order was entered, that the support was not paid as ordered, and that the failure to pay was intentional and willful. If successful, the court can find the payor parent in contempt of court.

In a contempt order, the court can order the payor parent to pay as previously ordered, and can order the payor parent to pay a purge amount. The purge amount is the amount that should have been paid under the prior child support order. In more egregious circumstances, the court can order a term of incarceration to coerce payment.

Due to the prior order of support, it is presumed under Florida law that the payor parent has the ability to pay. However, the payor parent should be prepared to defend by proving that he or she could not pay, and therefore did not intentionally or willfully fail to comply with the order. Usually, this will take the form of being laid off, medical disability, or some other condition that made compliance impossible.


Either party may petition the court for a modification of the child support amount. A modification is appropriate where the has occurred a substantial change in circumstances since the prior support order. In other words, where one or both parents have experienced a substantial increase or decrease of income. The Florida Child Support Guidelines are also used to test whether a child support order should be modified (by recalculating with present day income figures to see if the recommended amount is significantly different). 

Note that any change of employment income must be involuntary (e.g. medical problems, being laid off, retirement due to advancing age). It cannot be due to quitting a job, getting fired for wrongful behavior, etc.