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What Happens if Child Support isn't Being Paid?

What if Child Support isn’t being paid?

If child support isn't being paid or you are having trouble collecting child support, there are several options available to you from filing a legal action to enforce child support payments (contempt action) to wage garnishment. While nonpayment of child support can result in having an action filed against the non-payer, the non-payer may have some legal defenses for nonpayment. For example, the nonpaying party could show they have a legitimate "inability to pay." It is also important to note that if the parties think the current amount of child support is too high or too low, both parties may modify the amount of child support upward or downward after settlement or court action under certain circumstances.

Penalties for Nonpayment of Child Support

Failing to pay court ordered child support not only hurts your children, it also sets up the offender to suffer penalties. The following are penalties and actions that could be filed against the non-payer.



Wage Garnishment




License Revocation

Filling contempt of court for failure to pay child support

Contempt is a legal action that can be brought against an individual that willfully fails to comply with a court order like child support.

Having your wages garnished because of failure to pay child support.
Wage Garnishment

Failure to pay court ordered child support can result in your wages/earnings being garnished to satisfy the child support debt.

Jail imprisonment for failure to pay child support

If you are found in contempt of court for failure to pay court ordered child support, the penalty could be imprisonment.

License revocation from failure to pay child support
License Revocation
Failure to pay child support can even result in the revocation of your driver's license, professional license and business license.

Enforcing a Child Support Order

One of the most common methods used to enforce court ordered child support is contempt. Contempt is a legal action that you can file against someone who has "willfully" failed to comply with a court order. It's important to be able to show that 1) there is a court order that must be complied with, and 2) despite there being a court order, the other party willfully failed to comply. It's important to remember that there are a few defenses to contempt. These defenses typically fall under the categories of inability to pay and absence of a court order or a vague court order. Contempt is a very serious matter - if a parent is found to be in contempt of court for failure to pay child support and fails to pay the amount owed as required by the court, that parent may be fined or imprisoned until she complies with the court's order. If you think you might want to file a contempt or you might have a contempt filed against you, it's best to contact an experienced divorce or family law lawyer.

Child Support Modifications 

Life is unpredictable and circumstances change. Once a Final Order and Decree of divorce has been entered in a divorce case, it is possible to modify child support after the fact. The could happen for a number of reasons. Often times when there is either a change of custody or a change in the income or financial circumstances of one or both parents, one or both parties will seek to modify their child support order. Modifications of child support can be procedurally complex. It's also important to note that there are specific requirements for child support modifications.

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