Cash-strapped parents seeking child support have clogged Florida’s family court system, forcing hearing officers to work overtime and judges to play case managers, reports the Miami Herald. Parents attempting to establish child support now must wait up to six months for a hearing in some counties, and parents seeking reduced court-ordered payments because of wage cuts or unemployment are waiting up to three months, nearly double the waiting time in years past.
Court officials said they can’t confront the growing demand without more employees, but there is little hope for new funding as Florida’s leaders prepare to bridge a $3 billion budget deficit. Child support modification cases — mostly parents seeking to pay less — have leaped 50 percent statewide since 2006. Unable to afford an attorney, many parents seek relief on their own. They often fumble through on-line forms, pepper clerks with procedural questions and forget necessary documents when called into court. The amateur maneuvering has brought the pace of many family court proceedings to a crawl.