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Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Child Support?

Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Child Support

The short answer is Yes. You can go to jail for not paying child support. With that said, you should call Ascent Law LLC for your free child support consultation to discuss your specific circumstances (801) 676-5506. Call Now.

Child support is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child (or parent, caregiver, guardian, or state) following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an oblige for the care and support of children of a relationship that has been terminated, or in some cases never existed. Often the obligor is a non-custodial parent. The oblige is typically a custodial parent, a caregiver, a guardian, or the state.

Depending on the jurisdiction, a custodial parent may pay child support to a non-custodial parent. Typically one has the same duty to pay child support irrespective of sex, so a mother is required to pay support to a father just as a father must pay a mother. In some jurisdictions where there is joint custody, the child is considered to have two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, and a custodial parent with a higher income (obligor) may be required to pay the other custodial parent (oblige). In other jurisdictions, and even with legally shared residence, unless they can prove exactly equal contributions, one parent will be deemed the non-resident parent for child support and will have to pay the other parent a proportion of their income; the “resident” parent’s income or needs are not assessed.

Unpaid and missed child support payments is considered back child support. If back child support continues to go unpaid, it adds up and will then be subject to legal action being taken to collect the back child support. Child support is money the non-custodial parent is supposed to pay the primary caregiver, also known as the custodial parent, until the child turns 18 years of age, the child is active duty military, or if the court declares the child emancipated. Child support is meant to cover the basic needs of a child, including but not limited to, shelter, medical care, and food. Child support may also be used to pay for bills such as rent or a mortgage on a home, utilities, educational costs, telephone bills, and anything else that the child was accustomed to during the marriage of his/her parents. Paying child support is a financial obligation to help support the welfare of the child, and when not paid, it doesn’t go without consequences.

What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Back Child Support?

If the legally responsible parent fails to make the required child support payment, whether due to stubbornness, irresponsibility, or inability to pay, he or she will most likely need to appear back in court on a motion to enforce a domestic order. At that time, he or she will be required to provide a defense for lack of payment.

If the court does not find an inability to pay, the offending parent will most likely be ruled in contempt of court, with additional fines levied on top of the original ordered child support. This might include additional legal fees and even jail time until the parent complies with the legal child support order.

Although there are few people who question that parents have an obligation to support their children, there are a growing number of individuals who are concerned that putting people in jail for failing to pay child support is making the problem worse. It is believed that those who are able to pay support but refuse to will be influenced by the threat of jail, but it will only create a cycle of debt and imprisonment for those who truly cannot afford to meet their court-ordered obligations.

Part of the problem is that some parents are ordered to pay child support that they cannot afford. This is exacerbated when they are threatened with and put in jail for not paying what they owe.

It is not uncommon for individuals who have gotten out of jail to have a limited amount of time, sometimes just three months, to pay back a large amount of back child support. When they are unable to afford to do so, they end up back in jail. In addition to jail time, those who do not stay current on payments may have bank accounts or tax refunds seized as well as having their driver’s license suspended.

Child support payments can be essential to a single parent’s ability to make ends meet since raising children can be so expensive. When someone fails to meet their obligations, the custodial parent has a variety of options available to seek support. Along with facing jail time, a parent who is not making payments may also have their wages garnished or a lien put on their property. A lawyer may be able to explain to a custodial parent other legal options that may be available in this regard.

How Are the Consequences of Not Paying Back Child Support Enforced?

In addition to these legal ramifications, Utah also has a state division of child support enforcement who diligently works with the courts and other states to receive the court-ordered child support. Their efforts may take many forms:

• levies on bank accounts,

• liens on personal property and vehicles,

• negative reporting to credit bureaus,

• revoking driver’s licenses,

• intercepting federal and state tax returns,

• garnishing paychecks,

• revoking professional and work licenses,

• suspending or revoking passports,

• The redirecting any awarded monies due.

Both Parents are Responsible for Child Support

In Utah, the law requires that both parents financially support their child (or children). The amount of support that each parent has to pay depends on the number of children, the income of both parents, and the custody arrangement. You can estimate your fair share of support by using the state’s child support guidelines.

The guidelines are simply a fee schedule, or formula. Parents are free to pay more than the amount given by the guidelines, but not less, and a court must approve the amount. Although a court presumes that the number given by the guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support, there are circumstances where the result would be unfair to a parent or the child. In those cases, a court will review a set of factors and may adjust the amount of support either up or down.

Child Support Myths

With divorce rates at an all-time high United States, more and more parents are dealing with child support payments and orders. The child support system is set up to help children during the event of a divorce, or life change. Navigating the complicated child support system can be overwhelming for most anybody. Going through a rough separation or divorce certainly doesn’t make it anything easier. Going through a big life change can have a huge effect on one’s decision making skills. These factors are why it is important to secure help from an experienced Child Custody Lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand your case and your rights, and help both parties come to a fair and feasible agreement.

Below you will learn the truth about 5 common Child Support Myths. Please keep in mind that child support laws vary by state, and your individual situation should be evaluated by a professional.

Child Support Agreements

Child Support arrangements are actually modifiable. If you experience disability, serious illness, a change in financial circumstances, in inheritance, or if your child ages out of the system, you may be eligible for a modification. A custodial parent may also seek additional child support as the child’s needs increase. For example, as the child gets older, they may need tutoring, want to participate in extra-curricular activities, or need extra medical care. Or, the non-custodial parent may seek a child support modification if they re-marry, and/or have more children. The purpose of this modification would be so the non-custodial parent can increase support for the subsequent children.

The court may grant a temporary or permanent modification of child support. A temporary modification would be a one-time, large sum of money to cover a certain need. Braces, after school care, a new car are all examples of a particular need that may or may not be covered by a temporary modification. A permanent modification of a child custody may be granted when the child experiences life changes. Examples would be if a child needed special medical care, or to begin attending a special school.

Your child support responsibility ends when your child turns 18.

This is a common myth that many people do not understand. In your court order, you should be able to find out when your child support agreement will end. If you can’t find the information, you can contact the child support agency in your state, or enlist the help of a professional. In most states (not all), child support continues past age 18 if the child is still living at home and attending high school, or for special situations such as special needs children. However, if the non-custodial parent is behind on child support, in many cases, arrears (or unpaid back child support) continue to be due even if regular child support ends. The United States Department of Justice goes into further detail about what consequences are in place, should one fail to pay child support as decided

Child support is tax deductible.

The payer of the child support cannot deduct the money paid from his or her taxes. Just as you cannot claim most expenses incurred for your child without a child custody agreement. It is important to know that child support can interact with other aspects of taxes. For example, a portion of alimony paid for spousal support can be considered child support, and therefore not tax deductible for the payer of the alimony.

Child support is decided at the federal level

In the case of child support, there are no official national guidelines in place. Each state has its own sanctions in place for handling child custody affairs. The child support laws may vary widely by state, so it is important to seek experienced help in your child custody case. The child support laws can vary in how payment amounts are determined, how child support is paid, penalties for late payment or delinquencies, and other factors.

Child support directly benefits the child

Child support does not go directly to the child, but goes to the parent who has custody of the child. This is why it is so important to properly document your child support payments. You should always be able to provide evidence of your payments. If a court suspects misuse of the funds, modifications may be made to the child support agreement.

As stated before, when one if facing child custody and child support issues, it is important to enlist the help of an experienced family law attorney. The family law attorney will know the laws regarding child support and child custody in your state, and be able to help guide you to the best solution for your situation.

Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation. This site and its information is not official legal advice, nor is it intended to be. Feel free to get in touch by e-mail, letters or phone calls. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information to us.

Challenging the Amount of Child Support

Sometimes, the total amount given by the guidelines or the way that number is divided between the parents is unfair. If you think support should be increased or decreased before the court issues the order, then you can ask a court to adjust it. Once you ask, a court will review all relevant factors, but especially the following, to adjust the amount of child support either up or down:

• the parents’ standard of living and situation

• the parents’ relative wealth and income

• the ability of the paying parent to earn

• the ability of the receiving parent to earn

• the ability of an incapacitated adult child to earn, or the child’s benefits

• the needs of both parents and the child

• the parents’ ages, and

• Either parent supports others.

Child Support Attorney Free Consultation

When you need legal help to stay out of jail in Utah for non-payment of child support, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your free consultation. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Michael Anderson

About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.