Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Child Support

How Many Child Support Payments Can Be Missed Before Jail

The non-custodial parent is expected to pay child support in time and in full. Family court judges issue these orders in the best interests of the child and will not tolerate any excuses for not paying child support. That means that you can go to jail if you fail to pay child support as ordered by the court. But there are many ways you can pay back what you owe without having to go to jail.

What If You Don’t Pay Child Support On Time?

How Long Do You Stay In Jail For Child Support

Anyone that is more than 30 days late on child support payments may get a call from a credit agency seeking to collect what you owe.  You could also face the following:

  • You may face difficulties renewing your driver’s license
  • A lien may be placed on your properties such as your car 
  • Your tax refund could be withheld

After all these measures are exhausted, you can be found in contempt of court. This can happen if it’s found that you deliberately failed to pay child support.  The Department of Revenue (DOR) can try to enforce child support payments in several ways if they are in charge of enforcing your child support case.

Once the DOR has exhausted every measure to make you pay, they will take you to court. The court can make you pay a purge amount or sentence you to jail for contempt of court. You could spend a month or five months in jail.  It’s up to the judge’s discretion what penalty they choose to assign you. 

You Can Request For Modification

Punishment For Not Paying Child Support

Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Child Support

Instead of risking time in jail for contempt of court, you can request for child support modification. This is a better route to take if you are struggling to pay child support because your monthly finances are less than before or you lost your job. A judge may grant the modification if you can prove that your circumstances have changed making it impossible for you to meet your child support obligations.

The first step is to request a review.  You can make a request for a review through the Child Support Program or the circuit court. Your situation will only be reviewed after your request is approved. A reviewer will look at your income to see what has changed. The review may or may not benefit you.

For instance, if the reviewer discovers that the spouse that did not request for a review lost their job or earns less money than you, they may make changes that work in favor of that spouse. 

Conditions For Child Support Modification

Can Family Court Send You To Jail

Reviewers look at how changes have impacted your finances. In a situation where only  3 years have passed after a judge issued your child support order, you  can only request for child support modification if your finances are 15 percent less than before. But this is only if your finances decreased by $50 per month or more.

Your finances must be 10 percent less than before if the judge issued the child support order more than 3 years ago. But the difference cannot be less than $25 per month. Your child support lawyer can explain all the requirements for modification that you need to know.