Non Payment of Child Support

Non Payment of Child Support

Consequences for non payment of Child Support in 2023


The law prescribes stiff penalties for non payment of Child Support when a parent refuses to pay. Contempt of court for willful failure to pay child support you can be fined jailed for a short term or both. Or you can be jailed until you actually pay wage withholding your child support can be deducted from your paycheck.


You basically have two options if you’re supposed to be receiving child support and the other party is not paying. One is to work through the government agency, to have them enforce your child support or to go through the court system with a family law attorney or to do both at the same time. So let’s first talk about the Division of Child Support Services. This is a government agency that can help people enforce unpaid child support claims.


If the claim has been unpaid for six months or more or if it’s more than 5000 dollars or more, once you file a claim with the access, they will initiate a request for prosecution. This can lead to fines or imprisonment depending on the severity of the non-payment. So how much is owed, how long the non-payment has been going on can also lead to other things like wage garnishments or suspended driver’s licenses. You don’t need a child support attorney, but it’s often advisable to use one.


Sometimes the agency gets a big caseload and they may not get to your case as quickly as you’d like. Or if you have a complicated case, maybe it may be beyond the scope of what they can handle in these situations. Your family law attorney will have a hearing about the unpaid child support in front of the court. If the obligor fails to show up, a warrant can be issued for their arrest and they can be held in contempt of court. And at the hearing, based on the severity of the non-payment, the judge can order a future payment plan to cover the unpaid child support.


Enforcement of Child Support


  • Property liens and seizure
  • Bank account plunder
  • License suspensions
  • Passport refusal
  • Travel bans
  • Tax refund and lottery seizure
  • State criminal prosecution.

Property liens and seizure


Some of your property may be seized to pay your child support leans may be placed on other property when you sell the property. The sale proceeds will be applied towards your child support.


License suspensions


your driver’s license and your business trade or professional license can be suspended. You may be unable to get a fishing boating or hunting license.


Tax refund and lottery seizure


state tax refunds and lottery winnings can be intercepted to pay your child support. Passport Denial or revocation. If you owe more than two thousand five hundred dollars in child support you will not be able to get a passport or your passport will be revoked.


State criminal prosecution


You can be convicted of a misdemeanor or even a felony under state law for failing to pay child support. Federal criminal prosecution. If you have willfully failed to pay child support for longer than a year or you owe more than 5000 dollars in your child lives in another state you can be fined or sent to jail for up to six months or both. If you are convicted a second time or if you willfully fail to pay child support for longer than two years or you owe more than ten thousand dollars and your child lives in another state you can be fined or sent to prison for up to two years or both.

Inability to pay can be a defense but it’s up to you to prove you can’t pay and not up to the prosecutor or other parent to prove you can. You are not unable to pay if you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. If you are genuinely unable to pay child support. Don’t wait until enforcement action is begun. Contact your local child support enforcement agency for a payment plan and ask the court to reduce your child support.


When a spouse quits a high paying job to avoid paying child support


Nothing happens when a spouse quits their job in order to avoid paying child support. When a court is calculating alimony or child support payments, they use the spouse’s current income to determine the ability to pay. So if a spouse quits a job or takes less hours and an effort to avoid having to pay the high amount of the court ordered, that spouse will still be obligated to make those payments whether or not he or she has a job or he or she is working less hours and thus making less money.


Ability to pay is key


The key word in determining the amount of support is the spouse’s ability to pay. This means that the court has the power to impute an income to the spouse who has the obligation to make the support payments. Imputing the income basically means that the court assigns the income to that party, even though the party is not earning that income.


If the court assigns an income that is not actually being earned because the court is aware that the spouse with the obligation to pay has the ability to earn the income that he is not or that he or she is not currently earning. For example, if a spouse had a high paying job and quit that job, the court will see that the spouse has the ability to earn much more money than they are earning.


Currently, the judge will use this imputed income to base the support calculations on rather than using the actual amount that is being earned. And the other hand, I want you to understand that this also affects the spouse who is receiving the child support. So if the receiving spouse decides to quit their job or work less hours in an effort to hopefully get more support payments from the obligated party, that is a misconception and that will not come to pass. Both parties need to remember that willfully quitting their job or taking less hours is not going to be an answer to either having to pay less support or receiving more support.


The only way for a spouse to change the amount of child support that they are receiving or having to pay is to go to the court and modify the current orders. Otherwise, you will still be obligated to make the payments or to receive the payments, the same payments that were ordered originally by the court.


How does a Court deal with non payment of Child Support?


The judge can require posting a bond to ensure that child support is paid in the future or can even require jail time. Although this is uncommon because this prevents the other party from earning a living to pay future child support. But in very severe cases, jail time is a possibility.


How long before Jail in Texas for Non Payment of Child Support?


after 8-12 months of child support non-payment a judge will consider jail time for non payment of child support in Texas


How long before Jail in California for Non Payment of Child Support?


after 12 months of child support non-payment a judge will consider jail time for non payment of child support in California


How long before Jail in New York for Non Payment of Child Support?


after 4 months of child support non-payment a judge will consider jail time for non payment of child support in New York


How long before Jail in Wisconsin for Non Payment of Child Support?


after 3 months of child support non-payment a judge will consider jail time for non payment of child support in Wisconsin

Editor in Chief - Child Support Hub at Child Support Hub LLC | Website | + posts

Mary Newman is a child support expert and the go-to authority on all matters related to child support on the website. With over 20 years of experience, Mary has developed a deep understanding of child support laws, regulations, and procedures, making her an invaluable free resource for parents navigating the complexities of child support. Her extensive experience has given her unique insights into the challenges that parents face when dealing with child support issues, and she is passionate about helping parents understand their rights and obligations. Mary is deeply committed to helping parents understand their options when it comes to child support. Mary's goal is to help parents achieve a fair and equitable child support arrangement that benefits both the children and the parents.

Fact Checked by Subject Matter Experts

We strive to provide the most up-to-date and accurate United States Child Support information on the web so our readers can make informed decisions about their Child Support obligations. Our subject matter experts specialize in Child Support issues and we follow strict guidelines when fact-checking information and only use credible, Government sources when citing statistics and information. Look for the badge on our articles for the most up-to-date and accurate information. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate or out-of-date, please let us know via our Contact Page

Disclaimer: We use fact-based content and publish material that is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by Child Support and Family Journalists. The information we publish is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. is an independent, third-party resource and is not a provider of paid for legal services. Our information is not legal advice and no attorney / client contract is formed by your use of this site.