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I'm behind $3000.00 on my child support due to job loss for and have been served orders to appear in court. Will I go to jail?

Houston, TX |

I experience a job loss in 2010 and it took me six months to find gainful employment. I'd hate to lose my current job position if it's decided I'll have to do jail time.

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Attorney answers 2


You could. If you are not going to bring a lawyer with you, you better bring proof of your efforts to get a job and that you finally got a job. You need to be making payments - even if they are not the complete amount required. Understand that child support is for the child's survival. If the child does not have anyone support him / her, then s/he would be homeless and starve. The judge will not be happy if you have a car, a home, etc., yet you are not providing for your child's living expenses.

You should be prepared to make a payment the day you go to court, too, and have a reasonable plan for not only keeping up but also catching up.


I agree with Ms. Henley. You need to be making payments in some amount right now. Jail is not usually the first response to a moderate arrearage such as yours. But the key is to make your freedom valuable to other people. For example, if you are not paying any support and not working, who cares if you go to jail? But if you are paying as much support as you can to catch up on the arrearage and you are working, no one wants you to go to jail. (Well, the mother might, but that's just anger.)

Make your freedom valuable and bring an attorney with you. If you cannot afford an attorney, since the suit apparently is seeking jail time, you can ask the court to appoint an attorney. However, you will have to convince the court that you have no money at all--if you're making a truck payment, etc., the court may not give you a free attorney.