According to a recent report, only about 40% of the people who are supposed to pay child support make regular child support payments. Some of them can’t afford to pay child support like they’re supposed to, while others outright refuse to provide child support payments to a former partner.
If you just discovered that you might not be able to make regular child support payments moving forward or, worse, if you’ve fallen behind on your child support payments, you might be worried about what’s going to happen next. You may find yourself asking, “What happens if you don’t pay child support?”
There are quite a few consequences that can come along with failure to pay child support. You should learn as much as you can about them so that you know what might happen if you ever face punishment for not paying child support.
Take a look at some of the punishments you might be subjected to if you get caught not paying child support below.
You Might Lose Your Driver’s License
In most states, people have to renew their driver’s licenses once every four years. As part of this process, they’ll have to fill out a driver’s license renewal form, and it’ll inquire as to whether or not a person makes child support payments.
If you check the “yes” box, the Division of Motor Vehicles will look into the status of your child support payments. If they find that you are not paying child support right now, it could present a problem for you.
You’re not going to be able to renew your driver’s license until you get your child support payments squared away. This is often the first line of defense for those trying to skate by without paying child support.
You Might Not Be Able to Obtain a Passport
If you’re behind on your child support payments for one reason or another, you won’t just have trouble getting your hands on a new driver’s license the next time you’re up for renewal. You’ll also struggle to obtain a passport.
Regardless of whether you’re getting a passport for the first time or renewing an old passport, you won’t be able to successfully apply for a passport if you haven’t made child support payments lately. This could prevent you from traveling out of the country for business and/or for pleasure.
This is one of the consequences of not paying child support that people don’t always consider.
You Might Go Through Wage Garnishment
You might be under the impression that you can get around making child support payments by simply not sending them in. But if you do this for a long enough period of time, your state might be able to force you to start paying back the child support that you owe. It’s just what happens if you don’t pay child support.
They can do this by contacting your employer and garnishing some of your wages. They will have to go through the trouble of obtaining a wage garnishment order in court. But it’s usually not that difficult to do this, especially since those who fall behind on child support aren’t always in the position to hire an attorney and fight back.
In addition to taking money out of your paychecks, the state can also take any tax refunds that you’re owed to help pay off what you owe in child support. You should try to avoid allowing things to get to this point since it can throw your finances in complete chaos.
You Might Get Hit With Fines
Every state handles failure to pay child support a little bit differently. But most of them will make some kind of wage garnishment efforts. Most will also subject people who don’t pay child support to fines that can send the total amount of money that they owe skyrocketing.
In many instances, this makes it even harder for parents who have fallen behind on child support payments to catch up. But states take this approach because deadbeat parents cost taxpayers more than $50 billion each year. It’s why states go to great lengths to get people who aren’t making regular child support payments to pay up.
You Might Face Dismissal From the Military
If you’re not paying child support at the moment and you’re in the military, it’s probably not going to be too long before it comes back to bite you. Your former partner actually has the right to write to your commanding officer to talk to them about the situation and to try to get their help in forcing you to make payments.
In a worst-case scenario, you could also find yourself getting dismissed from the military for not paying child support. You don’t want to risk having that happen if you’re someone who is required to pay child support.
You Might Land Behind Bars
To be clear, you are not going to get sent to jail the first time (or even the tenth time) that you miss a child support payment. It’s relatively rare to see someone get jail time for child support nonpayments.
But there is a possibility that you could end up in jail if you choose not to pay child support time and time again. The answer to the question, “How far behind in child support before jail?”, differs from one state to the next.
But if you go for long stretches of time without paying child support, you going to jail isn’t out of the question. And in order to get yourself out, you’re going to need to figure out a way to pay back at least some of the child support that you owe.
Make Sure You Know What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support
When you fail to make regular child support payments, you won’t just be hurting the child or children who benefit from them. You’ll also be putting yourself into a precarious position.
Now that you know what happens if you don’t pay child support, you should try to steer clear of not paying child support at all costs. Otherwise, you could find it hard to get a new driver’s license, have your wages garnished, and even go to jail. You can avoid all of these things by making all your child support payments in the first place.
Paying child support is just one way to help your kids. Read the articles on our blog to learn other ways to push your kids to be the best versions of themselves.