Although every person’s situation is different, parents who separate or divorce in Ohio can be assured of this: if they have one or more minor children in common, one of the parents will likely be ordered to pay child support to the other. The amount of child support that will be ordered is often calculated according to a set formula, and is meant to help pay for childrearing expenses incurred by the parent with whom the child primarily lives.
In a perfect world, court-ordered child support payments would be paid timely and always be utilized for paying for the child’s or children’s welfare. As is easily apparent, this world is far from perfect. Whether a person runs into financial difficulties and cannot make payments, or the person feels that the amount ordered is unfair, it is not uncommon for individuals ordered to make child support payments to fail to meet their obligations. As a result, the law permits a number of actions to be taken against non-paying parents, to encourage them to comply with the court’s orders.
Penalties and Consequences for Failing to Pay Child Support
For some, the thought of being thrown in jail over unpaid child support seems to be an unlikely consequence. After all, if an obligor is in jail, they are not able to work and therefore cannot pay child support. While incarceration is a possible but extreme consequence of not paying one’s child support obligation, it is not unheard of. Before this occurs, though, the State may attempt to collect unpaid child support by:
- Enter wage assignment orders or other withholding orders, directing those who pay the obligor wages, benefits, or other remuneration to withhold a portion from such compensation to repay past-due child support
- Place a lien on bank accounts or other items of value. This can make it difficult or impossible to sell any property and may result in child support enforcement authorities taking any funds that may be in one’s bank account
- Intercepting federal and state income tax refunds. If child support enforcement authorities do this, any overpayment of federal or state income tax would not be returned to the person but would instead go directly toward past due child support obligations
- Suspending licenses and certifications. These may include a person’s personal or commercial driver’s license as well as professional licenses issued by the State. Suspensions are not lifted until the obligation has been repaid or satisfactory arrangements have been made with the State. Even licenses granted for recreational pursuits like hunting and fishing may be suspended for nonpayment of child support.
Avoiding the Consequences of Child Support Nonpayment
The best tactic for avoiding the negative repercussions of failing to pay child support is to not fall behind on one’s obligations in the first place. Child support, like any other court-ordered judgment, is an obligation that must be budgeted for and timely paid. Once a person begins to fall behind on these payments, it becomes increasingly difficult to get back on track.
If you have fallen behind on your child support payments, the worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Call Dawes Legal, LLC at (614) 733-9999 and discuss your situation with us today. We can assist in making sure your child support obligation is appropriately calculated given you and the other parent’s financial situations. There may also be grounds for changing the custody arrangement in your case, which can impact your child support obligation. It is imperative, though, that you speak with our office as soon as possible about your circumstances.