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Can You go to Prison for Not Paying Child Support?

Can You go to Prison for Not Paying Child Support?

The purpose of child support is to provide for your child’s needs—housing, food, clothing, medical care, extracurricular activities, etc.—even if you are the noncustodial parent. This is not what you pay in exchange for child care.

Most custodial parents rely on child support paid by noncustodial parents, but that doesn’t mean they get the help they need.

according to Custody Mothers and Fathers and their Child Support from the U.S. Census Bureau Only 45.9 percent of custodial parents who were owed child support in 2017 received full payment, according to a report released in 2020.

There are so many people who don’t pay child support that it makes you wonder if there are any consequences. Read on to find out if you can go to jail for not paying child support.

In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:

  • Failure to pay child support is contempt of court
  • There are several possible penalties
  • You Can Avoid Jail When You Fail to Pay Child Support—Here’s How

Failure to pay child support is contempt of court

Child support payments that are part of a court-ordered parenting/custodial agreement are legally binding. This means that if you don’t pay, you could be in legal trouble. Failure to obey a court order is called contempt of court. So if you’re behind on unpaid child support, you may find yourself in front of a judge.

The amount of child support owed varies from case to case that ends up in court. However, the longer you are behind on child support payments, the more likely you are to be charged with contempt of court.

The court hearing must be at the request of the custodial parent. An order to attend the hearing must be served on the non-custodial parent. The noncustodial parent must then appear in court and explain why they are not paying the child support owed.

If the non-custodial parent does not show up, the court can issue a warrant. This is common, and county jails are often filled with parents who do not pay child support and do not appear in court.

Noncustodial parents who owe child support can end up in jail even if they show up for a court hearing. Judges can put parents in jail simply for not paying what they owe.

There are several possible penalties

There are several possible penalties that can be imposed when someone fails to pay child support. They include: suspension of driver’s licenses, withholding of wages, fines and penalties, denial of passports, discharge from military service, and imprisonment.

All 50 states have laws allowing the suspension of a driver’s license or occupational, professional or business license for failure to pay child support.

If a court orders wage garnishment, the state will contact the employer directly and automatically deduct child support from wages. A garnishment can also include a garnishment of state and federal tax refunds.

Some states impose additional penalties and penalties for unpaid child support. Parents who break the law may also be denied passports, expelled from the military, or sent to prison.

Imprisonment is usually the end result, but a misdemeanor can land someone behind on child support in jail for up to six months. However, if the debt is severe enough, it can turn into a felony, which means ending up in jail.

Typically, all of this is handled in state family court. However, failing to pay child support may be a federal crime if the noncustodial parent who owes child support has moved out of state.

Under Title 18, United States Code, Section 228, the federal government must prove several things in order to convict:

  1. Parents have the ability to pay.
  2. Parents deliberately do not pay.
  3. Child support has not been paid for at least one year; or
  4. Parents owe more than $5,000 in support.

At the federal level, failure to pay child support is considered a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison as of the date of this article. If child support is not paid for more than two years, or if the amount owed exceeds $10,000, the charge could be upgraded to a criminal felony, with a second offense punishable by up to two years in prison.

Child support enforcement must begin at the state or local level before it can go to federal court.

We should note that judges rarely send parents to jail for contempt of court. Typically, this only happens when an earnings withholding order or wage garnishment is invalid. Ultimately, the court recognized that incarcerated parents cannot earn money to pay child support.

You Can Avoid Jail When You Fail to Pay Child Support—Here’s How

If you’re behind on child support, it doesn’t mean you should stop paying it altogether. This debt will continue to accrue, and a judge cannot amend what you owe.

If you are unable to pay due to financial hardship, please communicate with the co-parent and the state. You can seek a formal child support modification through the courts. Remember, a partial payment is better than a full default.

To avoid going to jail for failing to pay child support, you must appear for a contempt hearing. You must be ready to show the court that you did not knowingly violate their orders. The first thing to do is explain to the judge why you are not paying.

If you are unemployed or unemployed for any reason, obtain a sworn statement from your nearest employer. If you’re looking for a job, keep a record of where you’re applying and who you’re talking to.

You must also be prepared to explain why you did not request a modification hearing when it became clear that you were unable to pay the subscription amount. Remember that any evidence you present to the court must be true. You should not lie.

we are not lawyers here prison insight, so please do not take this as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney if you find yourself behind on child support payments.

Do you think people should go to jail or jail for failing to pay child support? Let us know in the comments below.


Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2017

Failure to Pay Child Support

Can I Go To Jail For Not Paying?

Jail Time for Unpaid Child Support