It is a common occurrence for people to find themselves in a situation where they are unable to pay the court awarded child support to the other parent. If you find yourself in a similar situation, do know that you are not alone.
The Office of Child Support Enforcement published a report in 2020, which includes its recent data. According to that report, over 10 million people who were under a court order to pay child support were behind on their payments. A common misconception most people have is that the reason the figure is so high is because of negligent parents who are trying to skimp out on paying child support despite having the resources to do so.
This could not be further from the truth. Many times, problems regarding child support crop up after the parent responsible for making those payments ends up facing circumstances which are not under their control. This could be something like losing their job, which happens to be a common occurrence during the pandemic, facing a medical emergency that caused a significant impact on their financial condition or just now having enough income to support themselves.
You may think that just informing the co-parent about your current situation may suffice, but that is the wrong kind of approach as it opens you up to many legal issues down the line. While it is a good idea to keep the other parent informed about everything, you must not stop there. You should immediately seek a divorce lawyer in Tucson who is well versed in post-decree law.
Legal Ramifications Of Not Paying Child Support
In the event that your partner takes legal action against you for the non-payment of child support, you may open yourself up to the following legal risks.
While this is reserved as the most serious of consequences, it is still a possibility. Offending parents may find themselves in prison over the non-payment of child support. In fact, depending on which state you are in, the non-payment of child support can constitute a felony offense and you may be processed criminally in certain cases. You may face up to 2 years of imprisonment in some cases.
The non-payment of child support can attract heavy fines from the court. These fines may end up costing more than the amount you would have to pay for child support in the first place.
Garnishment of Income
The court may decide to issue a wage order which will end up taking a sizable portion of your income to be paid as child support. In case you are unemployed, you may find yourself unable to avail unemployment benefits.
Inability to Participate in Governmental Programs
Depending on the laws of your state, you may find yourself unable to enroll for certain governmental programs. In fact, the laws authorize the state to intercept certain funds like returns from your tax returns, winnings from the lottery or prize awards.
Lien on Property
Your partner may be able to seek a lien against your property in the event of non payment of child support payments.
Revocation of Passport
You may have your passport revoked in the event that legal action is taken against you in the event of non payment of child support payments
Reduction or Revocation of Visitation Rights
You may find that the court has taken the non-payment of child support as an indicator of you being an unfit parent and may see it fit to reduce or revoke your ability to see your child.
What Should You Do?
Inform the Court
In case you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to pay child support, do not despair. The first course of action should be to engage the services of a lawyer who specializes in child support payments and post-decree law and inform the court of law about your current condition as soon as possible, even if you already have an agreement with the other parent to reduce the amount you are paying in child support. Only a judge has the authority to reduce the amount you’re paying in child support. Your spouse can prosecute you on the issues of delinquency and the agreement will not hold up in court. A legal professional from a reputable Tucson law firm will be able to ensure that this does not happen to you.
Ask for a Payment Schedule
In case you want to pay child support albeit at a reduced amount, let everyone involved in the case know about it. The best way to do that is to ask for a payment schedule that is more manageable than the existing one or lowers the amount that you owe. This way, you will still be able to contribute to the financial well being of your child.
You will have to show that your financial situation has changed to the court in order to get this approved. A well versed in post-decree law will be able to help you do so.
Come To A Legal Understanding With The Other Parent
If possible, try to come to an understanding with the legal guardian of the child about your condition and the steps you want to take in order to pay child support or not pay it. Realize that doing so will place an increased burden upon them and find out ways you can help ease that. You could propose distributing your duties and responsibilities in a way that will ease their burden. For example, if you are unable to secure unemployment, you could offer to be with your child when they are at work so that they would not have to spend on babysitting. Doing so will help you in court as there will be no resistance from their side.
Securing legal help is important due to the various intricacies of family law. A Tucson az lawyer who is well versed in divorce, child support and post decree law can be invaluable to you at such times. Make sure that you follow their advice and do what is necessary in order to avoid legal action against you.