Understanding the penalties for falling behind on child support

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2022 | Family Law

If you have to make child support payments, it is pivotal to do everything you can to stay caught up. Even if you lose your job, suffer an unexpected medical crisis, or have some other hardship that makes it difficult to pay child support, you could face serious penalties if you fall behind.

Aside from financial penalties and a damaged reputation, back child support could even affect your freedom.

Child support enforcement

When it comes to child support enforcement, you can face harsh penalties at the state and the federal level. For example, you could lose your driver’s license as well as your passport and face contempt of court charges. You could also deal with wage garnishment and the interception of your tax refund.

According to the United States Department of Justice, unpaid child support can become prosecuted at the federal level. For example, if a parent lives in a different state than his or her child or they try to flee the country to avoid child support, they could face federal charges. Depending on the details of a case, child support cases prosecuted at the federal level can lead to a prison sentence of as long as two years.

Addressing child support challenges

If you worry about becoming delinquent, you should look into ways you can continue to pay child support or address back support you owe in order to avoid these penalties. For example, you might have the option to modify your child support order because of major financial changes, or you could benefit from establishing a payment plan. Regardless, make sure you stay caught up on child support to avoid these penalties.