Your Legal Rights at Work

The Best Interest Of The Child

by Lewis Hamilton

If you and your spouse are divorcing, the issues that concern your minor children are among the most important, and can be among the most contentious. The court system places a very high priority on ensuring that the most vulnerable parties in the divorce suffer from as few negative effects as possible. Because of this, the laws about ensuring that children need not experience a lessening in the funds available for their care are extremely stringent. Read on to learn more about how the courts oversee the "best interest of the child" when it comes to child support.

Punishments for Non-support

The higher earner of the couple is usually the one who is ordered to make child support payments, with the exact amount based on income and the particular state's laws. Failure to make those payments can trigger some harsh punishments, including:

  • Contempt of court charges, which will include court costs, fees and penalties.
  • Liens on your property (vehicles, real estate, boats, etc).
  • Withholding of any income tax refunds.
  • Expulsion from government-aid programs, like food stamps, housing assistance, Social Security disability, etc.
  • Revocation of your driver's license.
  • Garnishment of wages; which is when a legal order allows the removal of a certain amount of funds from your paycheck before you get it.
  • Arrest and possible jail time.

Don't Make a Federal Case Out of It

Most parents have every intention of complying with their child support obligations, but so-called "deadbeat" parents do everything they can to avoid paying. If you believe that moving to another state will relieve you of your child support obligation, think again. Failure to pay child support becomes a federal crime once you cross the state line. All states have the power to enforce child support provisions, regardless of the origin of the order.

Dealing with Non Payment Issues

If you are having problems paying the ordered amount, don't just bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Contact the child support enforcement office in your area and ask for assistance. They can help you create a payment plan to bring your payments up to date. If your issue is a change in job, income or heath, you may need to take more proactive legal action. Contact a family law attorney for help in petitioning the courts to reduce your child support payments, but be prepared to show good cause.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties and need help, talk to a family law attorney, like one from Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner, LLP, as soon as possible.