Consequences For Parents Who Don’t Pay Child Support

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Child support is essentially intended to be used for a child’s daily and extra needs, including food, housing, education, and extracurricular activities. Take note that it isn’t a payment for the custodial parent.

Both parents, under law, are required to provide for the needs of their children. In most cases, however, the non-custodial parent will be legally responsible for paying support to the custodial parent. A non-custodial parent who doesn’t pay support might face various penalties.

Penalties and Fines

Certain states charge extra monetary penalties and fines to non-paying parents. This means that falling behind on court-scheduled payments could end up costing them thousands of dollars.

Suspension of Driver’s License

It’s important to note that child support agencies report non-paying parents to the DMV, and you won’t be able to renew your driver’s license if you have unpaid child support payments.

passport watch and notebook on table

Passport Denial

Parents who have back child support might find it impossible to get passports. States could easily prevent them from renewing or getting them, which effectively restricts their travel plans, whether for leisure or work.

Garnishing Wages

States can directly contact a delinquent parent’s employer and have them deduct unpaid child support payments from the parent’s paycheck. This is possible through an order issued by the court. Payments will then be received by the state and sent to the parent who has child custody.

Military Service Dismissal

Noncustodial parents who don’t pay support payments and are under military service could be dismissed from service due to nonpayment.

Time in Jail

Incarceration is typically the state’s last resort to penalize a noncustodial parent for not paying support payments. The duration of jail time differs from one state to another. However, they’re normally released once they pay their support arrears.

The problem with imprisonment is that the incarcerated parents wouldn’t be able to work while in jail so they don’t actually come out of prison better equipped to pay off future child support payments.

barbed wire fence

Federal Punishment

Delinquent parents could likewise be sentenced to a federal crime if they move to another state and have unpaid child support payments. For a parent to be convicted of the offense, the government should prove that:

  • The parent intended not to pay even if he or she had the money to pay
  • Support payments haven’t been made for more than a year or the delinquent parent’s unpaid payments is more than $5,000

This criminal misdemeanor could lead to six months of imprisonment. Further, the charge could be elevated to a felony where the delinquent parent stands to face two years of jail time for failing to make support payments for two years or the support amount is $10,000 or higher.

Main Takeaways

The law considers child support as both parents’ legal responsibility. This means that they should be capable of providing their children with proper nourishment, a home, health care, education, and other relevant needs. So if a parent chooses not to pay child support, he or she might face severe consequences and be prosecuted criminally.

Talk to an experienced child support attorney if you’re seeking back child support or unable to make support payments to learn more about your legal options.

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