Everyone wants to be there for their kids. For many co-parents, this means paying child support. It is a way of staying in your child’s life and directly contributing to their welfare.
Unfortunately, the realities of life sometimes get in the way, and people struggle to make these payments. Here are some penalties you could suffer if you continue to fall behind on child support.
Sometimes, debtors or government organizations can take money directly from your paychecks. This is called “wage garnishment.” If you fall behind on your child support payments, you could have a significant portion of your wages garnished until you are caught up.
In this situation, the state will contact your employer, telling them the amount they must withhold. You should receive a written notice of this garnishment. Make sure to contact an attorney whenever your wages are garnished, especially if those involved did not follow proper procedure.
Remember, child support is a court ruling. The court can view a failure to comply as a form of contempt, which is a criminal charge.
Continued failure to meet child support obligations can result in up to one year in jail. The alleged offender could also face fines of up to $1,500.
Defending Against Allegations
If you are accused of repeatedly missing your payments, you will be ordered to appear before the judge. In this situation, you are essentially defending yourself against a crime. You may seek representation, and you may have evidence, witnesses, and so on.
If you provide a good reason for your missed payments, and the court takes sympathy on you, you may be able to avoid penalties. The judge or the CSSD (Child Support Services Division) can provide alternatives and plans to help you get caught up.
In the best-case scenarios, the court may even modify your child support payments. Normally, a life change that is beyond your control justifies such an alteration. Examples include a layoff or demotion; an injury that alters your ability to work; the birth of a new baby; and so on.
If you’ve experienced a major shift in your life, and you’re finding it hard to keep up with child support, you must get ahead of this problem now. You have the right to plead for an extension or a payment modification. In the meantime, however, the court will still expect you to pay what you owe.
If you can’t meet your monthly payments, at least pay something on your child support. Do so even when that amount is significantly less than the full payment. This will show the court two things. First, it helps prove your willingness to comply with the order.
Next, it will help reveal your financial struggles. The amount you are paying could show the court that you simply don’t have the means to cover what you owe.
If you are having trouble keeping up with child support, or if you’re struggling with a co-parent who won’t make their payments, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A. for help. Call us now at (803) 938-4952 for a free consultation. You can also reach us online.