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How much do I have to owe to be arrested? Can I be arrested if I return to US and owe support?

New York, NY |

I have not paid child support for a year. I also owed arrears from the previous years. I left my job last year so my paycheck wouldn't be garnished anymore by SCU. I can't afford child support since I got married and have a stepchild and a new baby. My new wife can't work because of the baby so it's too much for me. I stopped visiting my child so I won't have to pay. I left the country because I'm afraid of going to jail. The mother is crazy and keeps taking me to court because she is greedy for the money. She won't give me a brake. I owe over 30 thousand now. I know she doesn't spend it all on our child.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

There is no specific dollar amount required for a court to issue a warrant for your arrest and incarceration ordered. If the court finds that your failure to pay child support was considered "willful", then incarceration up to 6 months is a remedy available. You should also understand, if you have not discovered so already, that your passport can also be revoked, or refused to be renewed by the State Department if you have failed to pay child support for a year. Additionally, because you left your job, and were not laid off from your job, you would not have grounds to seek a downward modification of the child support order.

I should also point out that how the mother spends the child support has no bearing on your obligation to obey the court ordered child support.

Seth D. Schraier, Esq. Law Office of Seth D. Schraier 3647 Broadway Suite 4G New York, New York 10031 (914) 907-8632


I agree with counsel. I would also point out that your failure to see your child does not terminate your support obligation and your arrears are continuing to accrue.


The more you owe, the more likely it is you'll go to jail. Moreover, the arrears will never disappear, so running from the problem temporarily will only delay the inevitable. Best to start paying as you owe the money regardless of whether you visit the child or not.

* If you found my answer to be "HELPFUL," or the "BEST ANSWER," please feel free to mark it accordingly.


Each of your actions has made things worse, rather than better, for you. If it is borne out of anger toward your child's mother, it is extremely misguided. Why would quitting your job, and being unemployed, be a better option economically than paying child support. You leave the country to avoid jail, but you leave behind two children (and a step-child) behind.

You should have sought legal advice/representation a long time ago. It is best that you do so now if you plan to return. Otherwise, you've just walked away from your responsibilities to, and your relationship with your children.

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