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What are the penalties for failing to pay child support?

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

Parents who are required to pay child support often see the order as a burden or punishment. They may understand that the money is intended to support the well-being of a child or children they share with another parent; but at the end of the day, it is money out of their pocket and into the hands of someone else.

Because the obligation to pay child support is often regarded in such a negative light, there are many New Jersey parents who end up missing payments. Whether they mean to miss these payments or not, delinquent obligors can quickly find themselves in much more trouble than they may have expected.

Missing payments will attract some unwanted attention. In addition to an angry ex, a person who has missed child support payments may have to deal with an agent from the child support probation office, police officers or a judge. Each of these officials can take action to collect payment from a parent, and some methodologies are quite disruptive and aggressive.

For example, a non-custodial parent may have his or her assets seized, income withheld, or tax refund levied in order to collect child support payments. Failing to pay child support could also result in a suspended driver’s license, denial of a passport, a warrant for arrest, and even criminal charges.

This should be a strong reminder to parents that the consequences of failing to pay child support can be quite severe and have extensive financial, professional and criminal repercussions.

Of course it would be in everyone’s best interests for a parent to pay child support in full and on time every time. However, sometimes mistakes happen, payments are missed, or circumstances may make payment difficult. Rather than allow the situation to get worse, parents on either side of a child support transaction may want to consider speaking with an attorney about their rights and options to resolve the issue.

Source: New Jersey Courts, “Child Support Enforcement,” accessed on Oct. 1, 2014

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