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I owe $16,000 in back child support. Can I get arrested?

Roanoke, VA |

I owe $16,000 in back child support to my sons father in fl. i live in Virginia now. i own my own pet sitting business but don't make that much money. my sons father told me i could get a warrant for my arrest soon if i don't pay. i already owe so much and have no warrant. is what he says true? if so why haven't i been arrested already?

Attorney Answers 2


Assuming from the facts that you mention in your question that there is a court order for child support that issued by a Florida court, then you will need to consult with a Florida attorney concerning what Florida law is concerning failure to pay child support. In Virginia, you can be jailed for up to 12 months for failure to comply with court-ordered child support.

Since you are no longer within the physical jurisdiction of Florida law enforcement, the more effective route for the father to take is to either have the FL child support enforcement agency get involved and file a multi-state enforcement action against you and/or for him to register the support order with the Virginia court for enforcement pruposes. In either one of those situations, a Virginia judge can then issue a capias for your arrest which Virginia police can execute it against you in Virginia.

You may want to consult with an attorney in Roanoke who handles child support and criminal defense cases for further review of your legal options, one of which may be to file for a reduction of child support IF your income from your pet sitting business is less than whatever your income was when the current child support amount was set AND this income reduction was involuntary on your part (i.e., you got laid off from your previous employment for reasons other than cause or similar circumstances).

This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended for general information purposes only.

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2 lawyers agree


I agree with the above. I would also point out that it is important to contact a Florida child support attorney, and then to act quickly to modify your child support. In Virginia, child support runs until it is modified, and it cannot be retroactively reduced, and the Department of Child Support Enforcement cannot settle a past-due amount for less. I imagine that Florida law will be similar. You should contact a Florida attorney to evaluate your rights and to see how quickly you can get before a court to modify the child support based on your circumstances.

I see this frequently in Virginia -- one party cannot pay the child support, and although they have grounds to attempt to modify it, they delay and delay. Generally, it is best to be proactive about this, at least under Virginia law.

Our office is in Charlottesville, but we regularly practice through central and western Virginia. If you would like to discuss this further, please give my office a call at (434) 296-7138 or email me at

I am licensed to practice law in Virginia. Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, as each situation is fact specific, and it is not possible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and court pleadings filed in the case. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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