For divorcing parents, the issues that concern your minor child can be among the most contentious and emotionally charged. Resolving issues about child custody and visitation beforehand can lessen the acrimony as well as save time and money. When it comes to child support, many of the aspects and decisions have been already made, since family court judges follow federal guidelines that have been put in place to ensure that the best interests of the child has been taken into account. Read on to learn more about how child support is enforced.
Penalties for Non-Support
Family courts rightly reason that every step possible should be taken to protect the innocent from the adverse effects of divorce, so they place a high priority on issues that involve minor children. Evidence of this protective attitude is on clear display when you view the penalties for failing to pay child support as ordered. For those who fail to meet their child support obligations, the courts have approved very harsh punishments and penalties, such as:
- Contempt of court charges, which can result in fines and even jail time.
- Child support payments taken directly from your pay (wage garnishment).
- Real estate and vehicle liens.
- Withholding of tax refunds.
- Expulsion from social service programs, such as food stamps, housing assistance, social security disability, etc.
- Revocation of your driver's license.
What to do if You Cannot Pay
Take action if you find yourself in a compromised financial situation and cannot pay as ordered, ignoring this issue will only make the problem worse. Contact your local child enforcement authority and request a workable payment plan be set up to help you get caught up on your payments. If your work situation has changed dramatically, or you are experiencing a health or other life-altering issue, an adjustment in the child support amount may be in order. Contact your family law attorney and request a child support hearing before a judge. Be prepared to show proof that your situation has undergone a dramatic change since the previous order was issued, since the courts are very reluctant to order a support reduction that will negatively affect the health and well-being of a child.
A Note About Custodial Parents
For the parent providing physical custody, it's vital that you understand that visitation and support are totally separate legal issues with no connection whatsoever. In other words, you cannot punish a deadbeat parent by withdrawing their right to visitation with the child. By doing so you could be placing yourself in a precarious legal position that could result in it's own set of penalties and punishments by the family court.
For more information, contact Margit M. Hicks, PA Attorney at Law or a similar legal professional.