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What happens if you do not pay child support?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2019 | Child Support |

Child support continues to be an issue around the country as many parents refuse to make payments. Statistics have shown that less than 50 percent of custodial parents who are owed child support regularly receive their full payment. Because the failure to pay support has become such a wide-spread problem, the government considers it to be a federal offense with substantial penalties.

When a parent fails to make child support payments, repercussions go into effect headed by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). With a goal to make sure that children are properly taken care of, the non-custodial parent who owes the child support payment can face the following consequences:

Being held in contempt of court

Child support is an order from the court. If you fail to honor the order, a judge can put you in jail for non-payment. This is typically a last resort. The length of time spent in jail is determined by the particular jurisdiction you are in. Jail may not be the best option since it makes it impossible to pay child support, but it is worth noting that failure to pay child support could lead to jail.

Wage garnishment

While the possibility of going to jail for non-payment may seem remote, garnishing your wages is likely to happen. You can also have wages taken from unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation and directly from your bank accounts.

Loss of tax refunds

If you are expecting a tax return and you are behind on child support payments, you will most likely never receive that return. Both federal and state tax returns can be taken for child support.

Money taken from lottery winnings

Needless to say, if you win a big lottery jackpot, you may not have much of a problem paying back child support. However, regardless of the amount, the lottery office will check to see if you owe child support before issuing you the winnings. If there is a balance due, it will be taken from what you won.

Other consequences of non-payment of child support:

  • You will be reported to the credit bureaus for non-payment which will have a negative impact on your credit score and could make getting a loan or a new job more difficult.
  • You could have your driver’s license suspended.
  • If you are in the military, you may face dismissal.
  • You will not be able to obtain a passport.
  • You can face additional fines and penalties.

If you are going through divorce and believe that you will be paying child support, it is important to realize there are significant consequences for non-payment. If you do not honor your child support order, you should expect your wages to be garnished which can disrupt your day-to-day living.


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