Consequences of Not Paying Child Support
What does Child Support cover?
- Basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and housing
- Medical care and health expenses
- Expenses related to education.
It is very important that child support payments be made in a timely manner and in accordance with the amounts and dates specified in the child support court order. Failure to follow the provisions in a child support order can lead to negative legal consequences.
What are the Legal Consequences of Not Paying Child Support?
- Criminal warrants: these are issued if prosecutors become involved under federal or state laws. This can occur if the parent is severely behind and owes a lot of unpaid support. Criminal warrants are enforceable anywhere in the U.S., not just in the state where it was issued. A criminal arrest can lead to fines, a sentence of one year or greater than one year in jail, or both
- Civil (“capias”) warrants: these types of warrants are issued when the custodial parent has filed for contempt of court. Failure to obey a court order can be considered contempt of court, which may lead to fines, a short period of time in jail (less than one year), or both
- Suspension of driver’s license and revoking of driving privileges
- Denial of tax refunds and other types of government benefits
- Revocation of passports (can effect immigration status)
- Garnishment of wages (taking money out of paychecks, unemployment funds, or worker’s compensation)
- Placing a lien on one’s real property to obtain funds for payment
- Denial of licenses such as hunting or boating licenses
While the enforcement regulations may vary from state to state, these penalties are imposed on parents who are delinquent in paying child support. Therefore, it is very important to maintain child support payments so as to avoid legal liability.
What can I do if I am having difficulty making Child Support Payments?
- Contact your child support enforcement agency and inquire about a temporary payment plan. This may help with payments in arrears and late payments.
- Schedule a court date and make a request for modifying child support payments. A modification of child support payments may be granted if you can show a change in circumstances, such as:
- Change of employment resulting in decreased income
- Changes to child custody or visitation orders
- Economic or medical hardships
- Medical emergency involving the child
- Changes in the child’s needs (i.e., daycare needs, school expenses)
- Speak with a lawyer: Your state may have different requirements or options available that can assist you in making child support payments
You may wish to consider the above options even before you have missed a payment in order to avoid the legal penalties for delinquency. If you are able to foresee difficulties in making payments, taking action earlier can often resolve future conflicts.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Missed Child Support Payments?
It is common for parents to experience financial hardships which affect the ability to render payments. Of course, it is best if you can avoid late or missed child support payments altogether. Failing to make child support payments can have many undesirable consequences. You should be sure to contact a family lawyer for issues with child support, especially if a warrant has been issued in connection with any court orders.
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Last Modified: 03-13-2013 04:28 PM PDT
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