What happens if child support payments aren’t made?
When a parent who has been ordered by the courts to pay child support doesn't keep up with the payments, it can negatively affect the child's quality of life. Child support is designed so that the child gets to maintain the quality of living that the family would have had if the parents would have stayed together. Despite this, there are some parents who balk at having to pay child support. There are also those who have lost their jobs or suffered some other type of financial setback that has kept them from keeping up with their payments.
When the parent who is obligated to pay child support falls behind, the child support agency begins taking action to enforce the support order. This usually begins with the payor receiving notices that the child support is past due but can go all the way to criminal penalties. It's important to be aware of how child support can be collected after you've fallen behind.
While many parents have the child support deducted from their checks automatically as part of the regular support order, this is also one of the first ways that the child support agency will attempt to collect past due support. The agency may also intercept a tax refund and disburse it to the delinquent child support account. In ongoing situations where the parent has been behind for a period of time and is not making attempts to get caught back up, the agency may suspend the parent's license and/or passport. These methods are usually very effective, and the state of Virginia used them to collect more than $663 million in the 2013 fiscal year.
If you have received a notice that you are behind on your child support payments or have become aware that you will not be able to make your payments, talking with a family law attorney can help you get a better idea of your available options.
Source: Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement, "2013-2014 Fact Sheet," accessed July 31, 2015
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