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What Happens When You Don’t Pay Child Support?

At the conclusion of a divorce, either you and your former spouse will work together to create a divorce agreement, or an Indiana judge will create one for you. This agreement will outline a series of responsibilities you and your former spouse will have to uphold, including asset division, child custody arrangements, and child support.

The purpose of child support is to provide for your children’s needs, from basic necessities such as food and shelter to educational expenses, clothing, and extracurricular activities. Failure to pay child support is a federal offense — and you may face multiple penalties if you have missed payments.

Penalty #1: Driver’s License Suspensions

Local child support agencies often report information to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicle whenever a parent fails to pay child support. In addition, the Bureau will ask if you pay child support whenever you renew your license.

If you fall behind on payments, the state will use this information to look up your BMV records and suspend your license. This is often the first penalty you will face if you do not pay child support.

Penalty #2: Federal Convictions

Failure to pay child support is a federal crime, and you may face federal prosecution under certain circumstances. The federal law applies if you owe child support, move to a different state, and the government can prove the following factors.

  • You had the means to pay.
  • You willfully failed to pay.
  • You did not pay child support for at least one year or you owe more than $5,000.

If you receive a conviction, you will face criminal misdemeanor or even felony penalties. With a misdemeanor charge, you can face up to 6 months in prison. Felony charges apply if you did not pay for 2 years or you owe more than $10,000. You can face up to 2 years in prison in a felony case.

Penalty #3: Passport Denial

In addition to losing your driver’s license, failure to pay child support can inhibit your travel as well. The state can deny your application for a passport or even a passport renewal, prohibiting you from leaving the United States.

Penalty #4: Wage Garnishment

If you do not pay your child support, your former spouse and his or her attorney may request an income withholding order or wage assignment against you. Essentially, the state will request your employer to take a portion of your paycheck and provide those funds to the state to transfer to your former spouse. In addition, the state may also seize your federal and state tax refunds.

Penalty #5: Additional Fines and Penalties

Failure to pay your child support on time can lead to you paying more money later on. In addition to the amount you owe, the state can impose additional fines and penalties for paying late. These fines can amount to tens of thousands of dollars if you fall far behind.’

Do You Need Help with Child Support Payments?

Not everyone can afford child support payments, and if you fall behind due to financial hardship, you have legal options available to you. If you lose your job or experience another legitimate hardship, it is important to communicate with your former spouse and the state of Indiana about your situation.

Contact an Indiana divorce attorney to help you through this difficult time. Your Indianapolis child support attorney will help you understand your options, including partial payments or alternative support methods.

If your former spouse is refusing to pay child support, a divorce attorney can help you and your child obtain the funds you need. Contact your lawyer today to discuss your story and strategize your next steps.