Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

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Latest post 12-21-2010 4:38 PM by Barbie73. 15 replies.
  • 12-20-2010 12:19 PM

    • Janet_lo
      Consumer
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    • FL
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    Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Hello,

    I need some legal advice.  I lost my job about 4 months ago and therefore had to stop paying court ordered child support because I have no income coming in. I just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate and I have no idea what to do with this. The motion on the order says "for contempt."  I am thinking that my ex wife filed something in court since I have not been able to give her any money.  I

    My questions are:

    Did my ex wife file this in court or can the court itself send me this order? 

    What should be my next step?

    Do you know if any legal aid that can be provided for me since I am out of work?

    I am receiving umepmloyment benefits.  Can the court take money out of that?

    Will I owe back pay from child support eben though the reason for not paying is because of loss of employment?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!!!!

  • 12-20-2010 12:28 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,151

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    If you are unable to pay due to major income reduction  then the only safe step is to petition the court for a reduced CS basued upon your new counted income etc.

    The fact that your income went down , is by itself not a valid excuse to not follow the order--and you might well be held in contempt.

    Past unpaid amount are NOT likley to be abated.

    Generally impossibility to pay is a workable affirmative defense to raise so as to not go to jail --but you need to raise it.



  • 12-20-2010 12:34 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    • Joined on 01-01-2005
    • CA
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    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Most of the people who respond here are NOT attorneys and even among the attorneys who respond, not everyone will be licensed in your state. Therefore, we can provide suggestions, but only an attorney can provide legal advice.

    Courts act in response to "complaints", which might be called motions or pettiions. Obviously, we can't read your document, but I think that the odds are over 98% that your ex did file with the court and asked it to find you in contempt of court for failure to pay court ordered child support. If your ex filed for state assistance, it is quite possible that the child support enforcement agency required her to file or filed on her behalf. Just because you are unemployed does not mean that your kids don't need food, clothing and a place to live.

    You will need to defend. You also may want to file for a modification of your support obligation on the basis of a change in circumstances. Please note that any modification request, if granted, will NOT be retroactive in nature.

    You will have to contact your local legal aid society to determine whether you qualify for services.

    To my knowledge, Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits can be levied for child support and child support arrears.

    You owe whatever your child support order says you must pay until such time as the order is changed. So, yes you likely do owe back child support. In many states, arrears also accumulte interest.

    I suggest that you re-examine your list of reasonable and necessary living expenses and determine if there are options for you to trim those expenses so that you can meet at least some of your ongoing child support obligation. I also suggest that you be prepared to show the court that you are making a good faith effort to find a new job.

    In future, do not regard court orders as suggestions that can be unilaterally disregarded because of a change in circumstances. You really needed to go back to court as soon as you lost your job and realized that you would have a problem making these payments. You appear to have waited at least four months. Not a very good fact pattern in court.

  • 12-20-2010 12:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Janet_lo:
    I need some legal advice. 

    Sorry, I can only give you my opinion or suggestions.

    Janet_lo:
    What should be my next step?

    If you cannot afford a lawyer show up to your hearing with all your financial information.

    Janet_lo:
    I am receiving umepmloyment benefits.  Can the court take money out of that?

    Yes.  That is income.

    Janet_lo:
    Will I owe back pay from child support eben though the reason for not paying is because of loss of employment?

    Yes.  What you were supposed to pay each month you missed will still be owed, and will NOT change, even if your obligation is modified to a lower amount in the future.

    https://www3.myfloridacounty.com/child_support/faq.html

    Ok  I'm not a lawyer.  This is only my opinion /suggestion.  Most Replys' are based on information provided by the "original post" (OP).

  • 12-20-2010 2:30 PM In reply to

    • Janet_lo
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 12-20-2010
    • FL
    • Posts 5

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Thank you for your suggestions.  :)

    Would it be a good idea for me to go and file for a modification of child support before I go to court for the order that I just received?

     

  • 12-20-2010 2:39 PM In reply to

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    You need to file for modification immediately;  your unemployemnt would be your income and can be attached.  The contempt hearing only addresses whether there is an order and if you have willfully failed to pay;  that you have income through unemployment and are not paying anything is not good.

  • 12-20-2010 3:58 PM In reply to

    • Janet_lo
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 12-20-2010
    • FL
    • Posts 5

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Like I mentioned, in the Order to Referral to General Magistrate, under motion it says, "For Contempt." Does that mean that I have an order out for my arrest?  Or will have?

  • 12-20-2010 3:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    you need to file a modification for your child support amount. Your UE compesation is the amount they will input as your income in the Financial affidavit and most likely your child support amount will go down which she might not like, but it is what it is.

    What she filed is different, she filed cause you are not paying the ordered amount so you are not complying with the order, the judge will probably not look at the employment situation as a reason not to pay. Do it ASAP, but have your money ready to issue a check for the four months you are bekind plus interest.

    This is a personal advise from my readings and research not a legal advise

  • 12-20-2010 4:02 PM In reply to

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    for 4 months of not paying most likely you will not be arrested, but start trying to catch up in the meantime and file a motion to modify your CS amount.

    Unemployment is not a reason not to pay" for contempt" means you are not following the court order

     

  • 12-20-2010 4:45 PM In reply to

    • Janet_lo
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 12-20-2010
    • FL
    • Posts 5

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Do you know if there is a way for me to file the modification for CS without a lawyer? 

  • 12-20-2010 4:54 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
      Consumer
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-01-2005
    • CA
    • Posts 6,058

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    See if your local family court has a help section for unrepresented people. I am not in your state, but many family law litigants cannot afford attorneys. Often the court house has some basic instructions available for more routine matters. A CS modification request based upon job loss would be a very routine matter for most family law courts.

  • 12-20-2010 5:36 PM In reply to

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Legal Aid in Miami, or go to the CSE office and ask for directions. Is you order by divorce?? or by CSE?

  • 12-20-2010 8:26 PM In reply to

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    Janet_lo:
    Do you know if there is a way for me to file the modification for CS without a lawyer? 

    Yes, below are links to websites that might assist you in this endeavor.  Don't limit yourself to these sites, and take advantage of other resources that might be of help to you. 

    *BTW, Legal Aid is not a free resource.  Child Support Enforcement will not help you.

    http://12circuit.state.fl.us/ProgramsampServices/FamilyDivision/SelfHelpProSeProgram/tabid/232/Default.aspx

    http://www.flcourts.org/courts/county/county.shtml

    Ok  I'm not a lawyer.  This is only my opinion /suggestion.  Most Replys' are based on information provided by the "original post" (OP).

  • 12-21-2010 4:17 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 01-01-2005
    • CA
    • Posts 6,058

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

    You need to research the website of the court that has jurisdiction. If that is a FL court, then that is where you must go. I do agree that this one is going to be much harder than if the court were more local. While legal clerks cannot give specific legal advice, they probably could answer simple questions, such as is form # ***, the correct form for a CS modification. It's going to be a little harder to do it over the Internet.

  • 12-21-2010 4:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Just received an Order of Referral to General Magistrate...

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