The children of divorcing parents experience an enhanced level of protection from the courts. The courts feel that these most innocent and vulnerable parties in the divorce process deserve to be fully protected and thus have enacted stringent child support guidelines and laws. If you are the divorcing parent of minor children, read below to find out how child support is enforced and the ramifications of failing to pay.

The Penalties

The courts take a "best interest of the child" attitude, and the penalties for failing to provide for your minor children can be very severe, including:

  • The garnishment of your wages.
  • Being held in contempt of court.
  • Having liens placed on your property.
  • Jail time.
  • The withholding of income tax refunds.
  • Suspension of government aid programs, like housing and food assistance.
  • Having your driver's license revoked.
  • Preventing you from using government-backed home loan programs, such as the FHA and USDA loan guarantee programs, and student loan programs.

Federal Charges

No matter what state you live in or move to, all states are empowered with the enforcement of child support orders, regardless of the state of origin. Moreover, it is a federal crime if you are found guilty of purposing attempting to avoid paying child support by moving. Members of the military can face federal charges as well, and the penalties may include other-than-honorable discharge, which could haunt a veteran for life.

If You Cannot Pay

If you find that you cannot honor the mandated child support obligation, contact your local enforcement authority immediately. Ignoring your financial responsibility is not recommended, since you may be able to create a workable payment plan to help bring your payments up to date.

For those whose financial circumstance have changed, such as a being laid off of a job or being too ill to work, there is help through the court system. A divorce attorney, like those at Eschbacher Law, can file a request for a hearing where you can plead your case before the judge. Child support orders can be changed if the circumstances warrant, so don't put this step off.

The Custodial Parent

As the custodial parent of a minor child, do not be tempted to block the child's other parent from the court mandated visitation and custody schedule because of non-support. Child support and visitation are considered two separate issues, and preventing your ex-spouse from spending time with their children is a bad idea. Not only are you, in effect, punishing your children by not allowing them to see their parent, you are, in fact, breaking the law yourself.

If you have fallen behind on your child support obligation, contact a family law attorney for assistance.