Child support payments help to ensure your children have everything they need. These payments must be made on time and in accordance with the court order so that the recipient parent can pay bills that pertain to the children.
Some parents refuse to pay child support because they feel they don’t need to for a variety of reasons. This might be because the custodial parent isn’t allowing them to see the child according to the parenting time schedule or due to the financial difficulties of making payments. These aren’t valid reasons for not paying. Child support should always be paid unless there is a court order changing the terms.
Serious penalties for the parent who doesn’t pay
If the parent who is ordered to pay doesn’t do so, they can face serious penalties. At the most serious end of the spectrum, you can face being placed in jail due to failure to pay. Often, less severe options are exercised first. These can include having your driver’s license suspended and being unable to get a passport. Your wages might be garnished, which can be detrimental for people in some industries and job positions. The garnishment can extend to any income tax refunds you are entitled to receive. You may have to pay fines and penalties.
In some instances, not paying child support is a federal issue. The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act enables the federal government to pursue criminal action on a parent if the following criteria exists in the case:
- Your child support arrears are more than $5,000
- You have willfully withheld child support payments
- You had the ability to make the required payments
- No payment has been made in at least a year
Child support modifications are possible
It is sometimes possible to have a court order for child support changed. A modification petition can be filed in limited circumstances, which include those that result in a significant change in the financial standing of either parent. Losing your job, receiving a pay cut, or changing jobs are all possible reasons why you might file for the court to modify child support.
If you have a situation that qualifies you for a modification, make sure you file the petition as quickly as possible. The child support arrears will continue to mount until there is a change in the court order. This isn’t done retroactively so you must not delay in your filing.