What Happens When Someone Refuses to Pay Child Support?

I cannot answer this question for all jurisdictions, but I can tell you how the law applies in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law (Utah).

Many things can happen. What follows is not an exhaustive list of consequences of not paying child support, but it’s a pretty good one just the same. Not paying child support as court-ordered can result in:

  • damage to your negative credit score/reports
  • judgments can be issued for the unpaid amount of child support, which judgment can be collected by various means, including
    • garnishing wages to collect arrearages (“arrearage” means an amount of money owed that is past due for payment);
    • garnishing funds in your bank or other financial accounts;
    • additionally, the judgment can include interest on the unpaid judgment amount and the costs of collection, if any.
  • the delinquent child support obligor (an “obligor” is a person obligated to make payments) being held in contempt of court and then penalized (also known as “sanctioned”) for noncompliance with the court order. Those sanctions can include:
    • a fine not exceeding $1,000;
    • incarceration in the county jail for up to 30 days; or
    • both a fine not exceeding $1,000 and incarceration in the county jail for up to 30 days
    • an award of attorney’s fees in favor of the prevailing party against the party who is found in contempt,
    • having one’s licenses revoked until the child support arrearages are fully paid. Which licenses, you may ask?:
      • driver’s license
      • professional license(s)
      • hunting, fishing, and other recreational licenses
  • the delinquent obligor being criminally prosecuted for what is known as “criminal nonsupport”
  • the Office of Recovery Services can:
    • intercept the delinquent obligor’s state and/or federal income tax refunds;
    • cause use of the delinquent obligor’s passport to be suspended or cause it to be revoked until the arrearages are paid.
  • liens can be issued against your vehicle or other kinds of property.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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