Florida Child Support Enforcement – Use the State or a Private Attorney?


In divorces with minor children, it is common for parents to find themselves back in court because one of the parents is not paying child support as ordered by the Court.

In Florida, you can enforce child support orders using the State’s Child Support Enforcement services or a private attorney even if you have not received financial assistance from the state.  So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using the State’s Child Support Enforcement services instead of a private attorney to collect child support?


For parents who are already financially strapped, these are the advantages of these services:

  • no charge to you for attorney’s fees- If you are the parent who is supposed to receive child support payments for your children, the service is provided free of charge as the cases are handled by attorneys hired and paid for by the State.
  • the system deals only with child support collection –  no other matters  will be addressed at a particular hearing that is not related to child support.
  • the process is (usually) automated – the State has set up a system to collect your information, prepare the necessary documents and process your case within the judicial system with the objective of collecting the child support for you.


Ironically, the same advantages of the system can also become its disadvantages:

  • can be a long process – because it is provided free of charge, the service is often overwhelmed with the number of cases it handles even at the local level; and it is not uncommon for the entire process to last well over a year.
  • contact with the system staff can be difficult – for the same reason of overcrowding, it may be difficult to contact the system staff without frequent calls or waiting on hold for long periods of time.
  • you have to go back to family to enforce other matters- as mentioned above, the CSE division only deals with the collection of child support in divorces; so if there are other matters that need to be addressed in court, you have to go back to the family division and start the process there.

In considering whether to use the State’s system or a private family lawyer to enforce child support payments after a divorce, you need to carefully consider whether the disadvantages of their services are important to you. If so, you may be better off hiring a family attorney.

Many Florida family lawyers are willing to take child support cases on a flat fee basis.  If you have other issues besides child support that need to be brought to the attention of the court, you can probably workout a flat fee arrangement with the attorney.  The additional cost of using the services of a private family lawyer will most likely pay for itself in terms of saving time and hassles having to do two separate proceedings.


© 2010 Vivian C. Rodriguez

Vivian C. Rodriguez is a Miami divorce and paternity lawyer. For articles about Florida family law visit, Articles about Florida Family Law.


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