The Possibility of Jail Time for Unpaid Child Support

When it comes to paying child support, for some people, it is simply another bill they need to pay every month that gets done. For others, however, intentionally or unintentionally, they may stop paying child support. Whether it is because you think it is unfair that you must pay child support, you were unable to pay child support, or a few payments have slipped your mind, if you do not pay your child support it is considered contempt of court. When you owe the other parent unpaid child support, they can have you served with a document that orders you to pay the unpaid child support and come to court to explain to a judge why you haven’t paid. Additionally, if you do not show up to this hearing, a judge may issue a warrant for you to be taken to jail. If you are charged with unpaid child support, it is possible for a judge to convict you of a misdemeanor, and when this is the case, you should speak with an attorney to learn more about what you can do under these circumstances.

Can I avoid jail for unpaid child support?

When you have not paid child support, it is possible to avoid jail. One of the best ways you can do this is to go to the contempt of court hearing with your attorney. When you do this, you want to show that you did not intentionally try to disobey the court’s orders to pay child support. How do you show the court your intentions? Through evidence.

First, you and your attorney need to explain why you did not pay your child support. For example, if you lost your job and have been unable to find new employment, you will need to talk with your previous boss about writing a statement that says you were let go and why you were let go. When you have interviews for other jobs, provide documentation about the time, date, and place of those interviews as well as who you spoke with. It is important that you and your attorney can show there is a valid reason for why you were unable to pay, not simply that you and the other parent are not getting along.

The next step is to discuss why you did not request a hearing on your behalf to modify child support if you were unable to pay. If, for example, you were debilitated in some way through an injury or illness, you will need to have your doctor write a sworn statement testifying that you were immobilized in some way. If you had nurses, friends, or family members caring for you during this time, it is important to get statements from them as well.

Can this help?

There is not a guarantee that you will be able to avoid jail time. However, when you work with an attorney and present the evidence, it is possible a judge will order you to make adjusted future payments and to create a schedule for any unpaid child support.

When you don’t pay child support and avoid your hearing, it is possible that a judge will consider this a misdemeanor crime. Speak with criminal defense attorneys if you have any further questions about unpaid child support.