As the divorcing parent of a minor child, a child support provision will likely be a major component of your divorce decree. Courts are bound to ensure the health and well-being of children, so any court-ordered child support provisions should be taken very seriously. It is in both parents' best interest to understand how not paying child support could impact you and your children since penalties for failing to pay the ordered amount can be extremely harsh. Read on for more information about the legal importance of meeting child support obligations.
Penalties for Not Paying
Failing to pay court-ordered child support can range from relatively minor to severe and can include:
- Being held in contempt of court.
- Having wages garnished.
- Liens placed on real estate or vehicles.
- Tax refunds withheld.
- Being expelled from government aid programs.
- Having your driver's license revoked.
Attempts at Avoidance
Moving to another state to avoid paying child support will backfire in several ways. Once you cross a state line, you will have escalated your avoidance into a case for the federal courts. In addition, all states have the power and authority to enforce and prosecute child support cases, regardless of the home state of the divorce.
If You Cannot Pay
Simply ignoring the problem will only make matters worse. Your local child support enforcement office may be able to assist you in setting up a payment plan to get your payments up-to-date.
For those who are experiencing a dramatic change in income or health, a change in the child support amount may be in order. A family law attorney can assist you in requesting a support hearing. You must be ready to prove how your circumstances have changed, since the courts are reluctant to impact the well-being of a child.
For the Parent Not Ordered to Pay Support
It's important to keep in mind that visitation and child support are not connected in any way. As the parent who is the recipient of child support, you cannot hinder visitation just because of non-payment by the other parent. Failing to follow the court-ordered visitation schedule will only serve to put you on the wrong side of the family law court.
Putting the needs of your children first should always be at the forefront of a divorcing parent's consideration, just as it is with the courts. Discuss child support arrangements with your divorce attorney to ensure that everything possible is done to create a fair and workable child support agreement.