When Child Support Obligations Are Not Met

Law Blog

If you are the parents of a child under the age of 18 and are divorcing, child support is almost inevitable. The parent who is not awarded physical custody of the child must usually pay child support. The amount owed varies depending on the state of residence, the income of both parents, and the parenting plan chosen. The law takes this financial responsibility very seriously and the punishment for getting behind on payments can be harsh. Read on to find out what you can expect if you or your spouse falls behind on child support payments.

When You Fail to Pay Child Support

All states have child support enforcement agencies that specialize in ensuring that dependent children are financially supported. When parents separate or divorce, the family court judge orders one parent to pay. Legal orders are not just suggestions—those who violate the orders can expect to suffer from some or all of the following:

  1. Wage garnishment (wages are taken automatically from a paycheck).
  2. Property liens (a block on selling or transferring property).
  3. Withholding and seizure of federal income tax refunds.
  4. Suspension of driver's license.
  5. Kicked off aid programs like food stamps, housing, Social Security benefits, and more.

Will You go to Jail?

You can be arrested for failing to pay child support and jailed, at least temporarily. If the offender is employed however, they may be released so that they can repay the back child support. If the offender tries to flee their responsibility by crossing state lines and moving away, they can be prosecuted on a far higher level that includes fines, jail time, extradition, and more.

Take Action Before You Get in Trouble

Child support enforcement agencies have ways of dealing with back support payments that are a lot easier to deal with than any of the above. If a parent is having trouble paying the obligation, contact the agency and see if a payment plan can be created to help you get caught up.

On the other hand, if the parent charged with paying support is experiencing a change in financial circumstances, speak to an attorney about scheduling a hearing for amending the amount of the payment. If you have a good reason for being unable to pay, the order may be amended. You must have a very good reason for the amount to be adjusted, however, since the courts take the welfare of the child first and foremost. Speak to a family attorney if you are having problems with a current or future child support issue.


12 February 2019