An order for child support can come up in a divorce case, a paternity action, CHINS case, etc. The child support order is a requirement by the Court that you pay a certain amount every week to the Clerk of the Court (or through the State of Indiana) for the support and maintenance of your minor child(ren). But, what happens if you don't pay this child support order?
What happens if you can't pay your child support order?
If you are faced with a legitimate situation where you truly cannot afford your child support order, then you may want to consider modifying the child support amount. This action can serve a couple of different purposes. First, it lets the Court know that you are in a position where the current child support order is not reasonable and you just simply cannot afford it. Second, it can reduce the child support amount to an dollar figure that you can actually pay.
If your case is being handled by the local county prosecutor's Title IV-D child support office you should talk with your caseworker. By doing this your caseworker will know your current situation and may be willing to work with you to give you some time to find new employment, get out of jail, get your disability process started, etc.
What happens if you won't pay your child support?
Yes there is a difference. Not paying your child support because you are not working because of no fault of your own (laid off, disabled, etc) is vastly different then choosing not to pay your child support. In many courts the decision not to pay your child support doesn't have to be an outright refusal to pay in order to be found in contempt of court. For instance, if you had some money for whatever reason, but did not pay your child support and used the money on anything other than child support, you run a risk of being found in contempt.
There are situations where parents may get into a visitation dispute. What happens is the parent being denied parenting time decides to withhold child support payments. This is something that you should refrain from doing. Indiana law treats parenting time and child support as separate issues. By refusing to pay child support because you are being denied visitation you could be faced with a situation where a trial court could find you are in contempt of court because of your actions.
Penalties for not paying your child support
By not paying your child support your run the risk of being incarcerated, having bank accounts seized, getting your driver's license suspended, having liens placed on your property, and in a worse case scenario being charged with a Felony. Obviously, these are all situations that should be avoided, and can usually be avoided if you take the right steps in keeping the Court or the child support office informed of your current unemployed status.
If you are faced with a situation where you are being ordered to appear before the Court for not paying your child support, you should consult with an attorney as being found in contempt of court can have some serious consequences tied to it. Once you are found in contempt you may be incarcerated, fined, forced to do community service, and lose your driver's license.