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What Are the Potential Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support?
The family legal system recognizes that the structure of the American family has rapidly evolved over the past several decades. As a result, it tends to remain flexible with regards to certain arrangements. For example, when a child’s needs or a family’s situation changes significantly, the courts allow parents to file for formal modifications of their child custody arrangements. Similarly, when a child’s needs or a parent’s financial situation changes dramatically, the courts may grant a formal modification of child support orders.
However, it is important for parents to understand that these kinds of modifications must be filed formally and approved by the courts before any changes to existing orders may take place. Simply because a parent’s circumstances have changed does not mean that that parent can simply stop paying any child support orders he or she is obligated to provide. Failure to pay court-ordered child support can result in serious consequences. For this reason, it is critical for parents who owe child support to speak with an attorney if they either cannot meet their obligations or do not believe that they should be paying the amount currently ordered. This proactive step can mean the difference between significant consequences and a fair and legally recognized modification.
If You Cannot Meet Your Child Support Obligations
Sometimes, circumstances make it either unduly burdensome or impossible for a parent to continue paying child support in a previously ordered amount. When a parent loses a job, becomes disabled, becomes chronically ill, is forced to move or is otherwise newly financially burdened in an uncontrollable way, the courts may be able to reduce the amount of child support that parent is obligated to pay.
If You Believe You Are Paying More than You Should
If your family’s circumstances have changed dramatically, you may wish to speak with an attorney about formally modifying your child support payments. Even if you have the ability to pay your court-ordered amount, it may no longer make sense for you to do so if your child is living with you more frequently, your child’s other parent recently became much wealthier or some other significant factor is influencing your child’s support needs. Depending on your situation, a modification may or may not be approved.
Do Not Stop Paying Child Support Without Judicial Permission
If you simply stop paying your court-ordered child support, you could be fined, held in contempt of court, be subjected to wage garnishment, have your tax return withheld, have property seized or be incarcerated. Speak with an attorney if your child support is already overdue in order to minimize potential consequences when possible.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about child support generally or child support accountability issues specifically, please do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced family law attorney. Legal consultations are generally confidential and they do not obligate you to take any follow-up actions. These conversations simply allow individuals with legal questions to become more informed about any legal options that may be available to them based on their unique circumstances. If you are in need of legal counsel, please consider contacting a child support lawyer Bloomington IL residents can trust. Call Pioletti & Pioletti today.
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