Arrested for Not Paying Your Child Support: Are You At Risk?

enforcing unpaid child supportIn a recent article, it was reported that nearly 100 people in northern New Jersey were arrested for failure to pay their court-ordered child support. The arrests came the week of February 1, 2016 as part of a statewide sweep. In Bergen County, 67 people were arrested, and  over $37,000 of nearly $2.8 million of owed child support was collected. Is being arrested for unpaid support payments common? 

For the most part, arrest for non-payment of child support is typically seen as a drastic measure, and that measure is fraught with debate. Individuals who are habitually late or who regularly fail to pay support can be subject to various penalties, such as revocation of their driver’s license and seizure of any income tax refund. Incarceration is often the last resort, but is it effective.

Many argue that if a person is jailed for failure to pay, they can certainly lose their job and therefore lose their ability to pay the support. Others argue that if less drastic means do not work, then there is no choice but to incarcerate that person.

Many parents find that having the obligor’s income garnished helps to avoid incarceration, because the support amount
is automatically taken out of their check. But, some parents object to the garnishment of their wages, feeling that there is a stigma attached to this. Also, many child support obligors find themselves unemployed; this being the reason why they are unable to keep up with the child support payments in the first place. [In this case, rather than stop paying, the obligor should seek child support modification based on changed economic circumstances.]

If a parent’s wages are garnished, then the probation department in the county where the child resides will monitor and enforce the account, bringing the matter to the court if payments are not made. It is then up to the judge how to penalize the parent for failure to pay. But, if the support is being directly paid to the other parent, there is no monitoring of the account and the burden is on that parent to ask the court for help.

If you are owed child support and you need assistance, or, if you feel as though you were wrongfully jailed for owing back child support, please review our Guide to Child Support Enforcement and Recovery which can provide you with invaluable information regarding enforcement or any other issue relating to your child support order.

As always, our experienced attorneys remain ready to assist you in your child support matter. To discuss your concerns, please contact us today to schedule your confidential consultation.

Enforcement of child support