Child support payments are an important issue in a divorce proceeding.
Parents who have been ordered to pay scheduled payments for child support can suffer severe penalties if they fail to make a payment on time.
The penalties include wage garnishment and even incarceration, although the most common results of child support non-payment include:
- Fines, jail, or even both
- Warrant issued for civil or criminal arrest
- Garnishment of wages which may include worker’s compensation or unemployment
- Contempt of court
- Denial, revocation or suspension of licenses including driver’s, professional, or recreational (boating, fishing, hunting)
- Denial of tax refunds
- Liens on property for owed child support
- Passport revocation
- Denial of certain government benefits
Child Support Laws and Enforcement Vary
Child support laws vary from State to State, but each state will enforce all court ordered child support. It is a federal offense under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act to move across state lines in order to avoid child support payments. If convicted, the penalties include mandatory restitution of unpaid child support and imprisonment up to two years.
Child Support by Military
Members of the military may be different and can include dismissal from service.
Financial Difficulties and Child Support
If financial difficulties make full payment not possible, the parent can try to contact local enforcement agency and let them know to try and convince them to help set up a temporary payment plan to prevent payments from falling behind.
The court may revise support orders, but normally, a change in circumstances of the requesting parent must be shown such as economic hardship caused by a decrease in income, a change in the custodial agreement, changes in the child’s needs, or medical emergencies and other issues involving the child or parent.
Payment Delinquencies Should Not Affect Visitation Rights
Visitation rights are entirely separate from child support. Even if a parent fails to make payments, that parent has a right to visit the child according to court ordered visitation schedules. The parent with custody must not restrict access to the nonpaying parent. The use of support and other related issues should not punish, control, or influence either parent.