Child support payments are often the most contentious part of many cases of divorce. When one partner cannot pay the ordered support, they may face stiff penalties.
How Child Support Works
Both parents are financially responsible for a child. And support ensures a balance between the two parties when they are separated or divorced. Typically, the partner who retains full custody has most of the financial responsibility; therefore, the other parent pays child support. The amount of child support varies by state, income, and personal finances and is ordered by a judge.
Child support is mandatory, whether or not the parents were ever married. One parent may directly pay the other or one parent may pay for personal expenses. The amount of child support is based on one parent’s income, both incomes, and a percentage of the income.
When a parent falls behind with child support payments, he or she violates a court order and can be subject to penalties.
Five Penalties Parents Can Face When Failing to Pay
- Loss of Money: Failure to pay child support could result in garnished wages, including workers’ compensation and unemployment. The parent may also lose his or her tax refund, have funds seized directly from bank accounts, or have accounts rendered.
- Loss of Government Licenses: The parent may be denied or have suspended personal and professional drivers, hunting, and gaming licenses.
- Lien of Property: If you own any property, the possibility of a lien against property could be put in place in the number of payments owed.
- Exclusion of Government Benefits: A parent who is unable to pay child support cannot qualify for government benefits. Such as welfare and any public assistance.
- Loss of Freedom: A warrant may be issued for a civil or criminal arrest and may result in jail time and/or fines.
When it comes to the failure to make child support payments, penalties can vary from state to state. In 1998, the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act was passed as a Federal Law that prevented parents from moving to another state to receive a lesser sentence or escape payments.
If you are active military personnel and fail to pay child support, the penalties can include dismissal of service depending on circumstances.
Failure to pay child support becomes a federal crime when the parent fails to pay the support to a parent in another state. It is longer than one year, or exceeds $5,000. If the amount exceeds $10,000 and is two years old, the parent could face fines and up to two years in jail.
What to do if you fall behind on payments
If you fall behind on child support, be proactive, and do everything to get caught up immediately. If making payments seem impossible, contact a local enforcement agency, and discuss a possible temporary payment plan.
It is possible to change the support order when you face a decreased income. As well as a medical emergency, and changes in the child’s need. The adjustment of child support can only be filed through a judge, and both parents are involved.
Failure to pay or late payments should not affect visitation rights. And consequently, neither parent should use payments as a punishment for each other.
If you need help with child support, a family law attorney may be able to help. If you have fallen behind or have more questions about the failure to pay child support, reach out to the Law Office of Paul Bowen.