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What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support?

Unfortunately, not all relationships last forever. Ideally, the parties can move on and not have to deal with each other anymore. That’s not the case when children are involved, though. Whether you are married or single, if your relationship produces children, the reality is that one person will get custody of the children and the other will have to pay child support until the child is an adult.

Many parents fail to pay child support. Some do it on purpose; others simply cannot afford it. They may have lost their job or suffered a serious injury or medical condition, reducing their income.

Whether you’re the child support payer or recipient, you may wonder what happens when court-ordered child support is not being paid. Is it against the law? Will you be put in jail if you’re a few months behind? Can you lose your job?

While each state handles their own child support payments, failure to pay child support is against federal law. Read on to learn more about child support laws and penalties.

What Federal Law Says

Not paying court-ordered child support is against the law. According to Section 228 of Title 18, United States Code, if a parent fails to pay child support for a child who lives in another state, has not paid child support in more than one year or owes $5,000 or more in child support, he or she can face prosecution. This crime is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in prison.

When the child support payments become overdue for two years or longer, or exceed $10,000, the crime is elevated to a felony. This can result in up to two years in prison.

It’s important to understand that while failure to pay child support is a federal law, punishment is actually handled at the state and local levels. In most cases, jail time is not recommended because putting the delinquent parent in jail does nothing to solve the problem. The parent needs to be able to earn income to pay the child support.

Instead, a parent who fails to pay child support may be penalized in other ways, for example, wages may be garnished, or tax refunds may be intercepted. The court may also seize assets or suspend a person’s driver’s license or professional license. A parent may be unable to leave the state or country until child support is paid up.

Contact a Child Support Lawyer Today

If you have custody of your children and the other parent is behind on child support, it can lead to financial difficulties. It’s a good idea to seek legal help to understand your options. Likewise, if you are the one required to pay child support and you are having difficulty doing so, you should understand your legal options. You may be able to petition the court for a modification.

Brooklyn child support attorney Theodore Alatsas ESQ can help you understand child support requirements. Whether you are required to pay or are seeking payment from another parent, he can assist you. Learn more about the process by giving his office a call at (718) 233-2903.