Non-payment of child support is a serious offense that may result in fines or even jail time. From a legal perspective, this is because you are in “contempt of court.” The civil court that ordered you to pay child support is every bit as important as a criminal court, even though civil courts don’t tend to sentence individuals to jail time. Civil courts handle child custody issues, but contempt of civil court is still a criminal offense, which is itself a separate issue.
If you have not been paying child support or if your ex-spouse needs to pay you support money, you should consider asking the services of a child custody lawyer or even a criminal defense lawyer.
Common Legal Recourse
If your ex-spouse is not paying child support, you have the option of connecting with a private attorney or going through your state’s child support division. You may be able to connect with a local child support enforcement agency, typically a non-profit organization dedicated to paying for private attorney fees. Private lawyers are usually more effective at getting quick payments. The only downside to this recourse is that you will have to defer to the non-profit organization about the direction of your lawsuit.
Once you’ve settled on how you will be supported in court, you will have to determine how you want to get the money. The state may:
- Garnish your ex’s wages
- Suspend his licenses
- Forcibly take property
- Threaten jail time
- Garnish from your ex’s bank account
In addition to legal fees, which may or may not be paid by a non-profit organization dedicated to helping enforce child support rulings, you may have to pay other fees. These generally consist of fees for income withholding, usually up to $25 for every $500 withheld. Always consult with your lawyer before taking any action to make sure that you know exactly how much you have to pay. The benefit of working through the state is that you don’t have to pay anything, but when you work with a non-profit or an unscrupulous lawyer, you may find yourself saddled with fees that you don’t understand.
Getting your child support is important, and the legal consequences of non-payment can be severe. Get the ball rolling and connect with a child support lawyer!