What to do if my 58 year old husband owes back child support but has been very ill and going through medical treatments?

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What to do if my 58 year old husband owes back child support but has been very ill and going through medical treatments?

He received a letter with a court date to appear for the back child support and it stated he could be arrested. He is disabled and has no income to pay. Would they put him in jail even though he is ill and has no money to pay? He is awaiting a court date for disability but was told it could take up to a year to get a date. We don’t know what to do and are terrified they may put him in jail.

Asked on October 3, 2012 under Family Law, Florida

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A family court judge can hold a parent in contempt and order them to be in jail for a period of time for failing to pay child support.  However, an outright inability to pay is a defense.  Even though your husband is scared, he still needs to go to the hearing and take copies of all of his documentation of his illness, his disability applications, and his current inability to work.  If he has an attorney for the disability process, see if they will appear at the hearing for the limited purpose of verifying to the court that he is in the process of applying for disability.  Courts often hear excuses.  The documentation is really the key to showing that there is a legitmate basis for not holding him in contempt-- which is a valid inability to pay.


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