Struggling to keep up with child support payments? Are you facing a significant amount of back payments? If so you could face serious consequences soon, including jail depending on your state's laws.
If you're like many parents, your late payments aren't due to an unwillingness to pay. You may simply be facing financial difficulties that make it difficult to make payments. Whatever the reason behind the late payments, it's important to confront the issue as soon as possible and find a solution. The longer you wait, the more serious the problem could become. Fortunately, you have some options available.
Work out a settlement. At first glance, you may think the other parent would be the last person to agree to a settlement. However, it does happen. Think about it from their perspective. They would rather receive something than nothing, and they likely aren't going to receive anything if you're in jail. You and your lawyer could potentially negotiate a settlement amount for the overdue amount. That could clear the back-due payment so you can focus on making payments going forward.
Keep in mind that any settlement will likely have to be approved by the court and you will likely have to pay the settled amount by a certain date. If you fail to do so, you could be right back where you started.
Notify the court. Again, you may think the court would be the last place to contact when you're having trouble paying child support. But keep in mind that their goal is to facilitate child support payments, not to put you in jail. They don't want to put you in jail if it can be avoided. Many family courts have child support remediation programs in which you can make modified payments to get back on track.
Just like with a settlement, however, you must stick to the plan. If the court agrees to modify your payments and you still don't make them, the consequences could be severe.
Find another option to pay. If the first two options don't succeed, your final option is to take any measure you can to come up with the money. You may want to look into personal loans, even using your car or house as collateral if you can. If you don't qualify, consider asking for loans from a parent or other family member. You may even need to get a second job to generate additional income.
Many courts will grant extensions as long as you are making some kind of effort to pay. Again, it doesn't help anyone for you to go to jail so most parties will make reasonable accommodations for you to pay, assuming you are making the effort to do so.
A child support attorney can help you explore your options. Owing back payments is not a good situation, but there are options available. The important thing is that you take action quickly.
For more information, contact a local child support attorney.