A non-custodial parent cannot legally stop making payments for child support without a court judgment. It is quite tempting for the custodial parent to sort of now ‘punish’ the other co-parent by denying them visitation rights. However, doing this can have you charged and convicted for not respecting a court order.
The best you can do if the other parent won’t fulfill their obligation is to speak to a family law attorney in Lake County and Porter County. Notably, their actions amount to being in contempt of a court order, which is punishable by law.
What are the Penalties for Failure to Pay Child Support?
A parent will be committing a federal offense if they do not provide for their child’s needs.
The penalties include:
Driver’s License Suspension
Child support agencies can ask the Division of Motor Vehicles to suspend or revoke a parent’s driving license that fails to pay child support.
If a parent fails to voluntarily pay child support, the state can order their employer to deduct the amount directly from their paycheck. The money is then transmitted to the custodial parent through the state.
Fines and Penalties
Parents that do not comply with the child support order may be required to pay additional penalties and fines. They may owe thousands of dollars for failing to make the agreed regular payments.
The state can limit a co-parent’s ability to travel for leisure or work if they fail to honor their parental responsibilities. The father or mother may be unable to renew their passports or obtain a new one.
Dismissal from the Military
Non-custodial parents in the military may not be allowed to continue being part of the service if they are not financially responsible for their children. They risk being dismissed.
Your co-parent can be jailed for not paying child support, but it is usually a last resort. Usually, the person can be released when they pay the arrears.
What If the Co-Parent Owes Child Support and Moves to a Different State?
Section 228 of Title 18 of the United States Code makes it an offense for a non-custodial parent to move from the state where they owe child support to another. They can be convicted if it is proven that:
- The amount owed in child support exceeds $5,000
- They have not paid child support for a year or more
- They had the ability to pay
- They willfully refused to pay
If the parent is convicted of this offense, it can be sentenced as a misdemeanor or a felony. For a misdemeanor, they can stay in prison for up to six months. Felony convictions come when the owed amount exceeds $10,000 or when the child support has not been paid for two years or more. Your co-parent can be jailed for up to two years.
What Happens When Their Failure to Pay Is Due to a Financial Hardship?
When the non-custodial parent experiences legitimate hardship, they should not just stop making child support payments. Instead, they should communicate their financial situation to the state and the custodial parent. A knowledgeable child support attorney in Merrillville, IN, can distinguish real hardship from fake.
Acceptable circumstances that cause financial hardships include:
- Supporting a new spouse that is disabled and unable to take care of themselves or have a legal obligation to support an ex-spouse.
- A legal and financial commitment to take care of another child from a previous relationship.
- A lot of costs incurred in child visitation
- A lot of debts accrued while taking care of the family before separation
And if they are really struggling with the payments, they can seek child support modifications formally in court. But before that happens, the co-parent should continue providing support to the best of their ability – because partial payments are better than defaulting altogether.
Will The Court Reduce Child Support Payments If the Co-Parent Retires?
The decision on whether or not the co-parent pays less upon retirement depends on the circumstances. Some of the aspects the court is likely to consider are their health, skills, experience, education, and age. For instance:
- Whether the co-parent is past 65 years or is approaching it
- The child(ren) ‘s ages: whether they are still going to depend on the co-parent even after the ‘normal’ retirement age
- If there are serious mental or physical health issues that prevent the other parent from working: if so, are there alternative work opportunities for them?
- The plans you made concerning retirement before you separated with the co-parent.
If the co-parent’s decision to retire is unreasonable, their child support obligation will remain the same. However, the jury’s decision is case-specific and varies in each circumstance. Speaking to a child support attorney in Merrillville, Indiana, can make you more aware of the possibilities.
Will I Receive Child Support If the Co-Parent Files for Bankruptcy?
The courts can relieve bankruptcy applicants of many of their financial obligations, but not their parental responsibility. Your co-parent may be mistaken if they think they can escape their child support duty by filing for bankruptcy.
However, if their financial situation has changed significantly, they can file a motion to modify it. Changes can only be made to future payments – back payments will need to be paid according to the previous arrangements. If your co-parent has stopped providing for their child following bankruptcy, a Merrillville child support attorney can help.
A Compassionate Legal Expert On Your Side
Matters of child support, custody, and visitation rights are very complicated. And as you heal and adjust to the new life after separation, you do not need more stressors like child support issues. A family lawyer in Northwest Indiana can handle your case without a fuss.
Family cases need the help of someone that understands the emotional aspects and can form relationships based on trust and respect. This way, it is easier for the Merrillville family lawyer to achieve the best possible outcome in the end. And Attorney Julie Glade is ready to help. Call (219) 736-0456 to schedule a free consultation today.