Falling Behind on Child Support

I once met an individual who was having child support garnished from his paycheck. When he showed me his paystub, his gross earnings couldn’t even pay his rent. Unfortunately, his hours were cut back and he wasn’t earning the same wage as he was at the time the child support was calculated.

If you’re past-due on your child support payments, you’re not alone: millions of parents in America are behind on child support according to the U.S. Census Bureau.While some of these cases are parents who are neglecting their responsibility to support their child, not all of them are. However, financially hard times happen and can put a parent in a position where they can’t afford the high cost of child support. In some situations, parents are losing 35% or more of their take home pay to child support payments.

So, what happens if you simply stop paying? Typically, you’ll be found in contempt of court and interest will accrue as your outstanding balance grows. Failure to pay child support could result in automatic garnishing of your wages or worse – jail time. A judge can also take away your driver’s license as well as any other professional licenses you carry. In some cases, you could also lose your vehicle, tax return, and even your property.

What You Should Do If You’re Behind on Child Support

If you’re behind and can’t afford payments, it’s important that you communicate through the proper channels. While you can talk with the recipient of your support and ask if they’re willing to agree to a reduction, you’ll still need to formally change the child support obligation through the court system for the new support amount to be recognized by law. If the recipient isn’t willing to work with you, then you need to file a Motion with the court. Before going to hearing, make sure you have a family law attorney on your side as well as adequate documentation that explains your inability to pay. For example, documentation like doctor’s notes and employment history can help show the judge that you’re doing your best. This goes a long way with most judges.

Regardless of why you’re unable to pay, it’s important that you address your delinquency with the court instead of allowing a balance to accrue. Once the support accrues, that balance will not be reduced. You must be proactive, otherwise your situation will become much worse and there is only so much a judge can do to assist you. You want the judge to look upon your situation favorably.