Today only about 50% of all marriages in the United States are successful. The remaining marriages end up in divorce. If the marriage involves dependent children, this process is complicated by custody, visitation and child support issues. About 80% of the time, it is the father who is responsible for child support payments, because in most cases the wife retains custody of the children. There are many enforcement measures and penalties that can be instituted if child support becomes delinquent. As a father recently divorced and facing the child support responsibilities, it is important to be proactive and protect yourself. Violations for not paying child support can even lead to incarceration. So before negative consequences are experienced, retain a law firm that specializes in child support.
It is estimated that on any given day in the United States approximately 50,000 people are sitting in jail cells for failing to pay child support. In 2008 there were around 22 million child support cases in arrears. At the time of divorce the amount of child support payment is determined by the judge. In some cases the father has a great deal of wealth and has no problem paying his child support payments. However, in many cases the amount determined by the court makes it prohibitiveto pay the payments and support a life style. As a result, the payor falls behind in child support in order to maintain their expenses. Some fathers think they can get away with partial payments, but this can balloon and cause problems. This begins a vicious cycle. Every state in the United States has different laws regarding the penalties when child support is not paid or falls drastically in arrears. Jail time is one option open for the court. This generally comes after garnishing wages. Should a person be put in jail for not paying child support? Many people think it should be conditional and that every case should be assessed individually. However, this is not what is going on today. You certainly can’t pay child support while you are sitting in jail. While you are in jail, your ex-spouse may end up on state welfare. Some states add the costs of this welfare to the existing child support payments. Even when you get out, it may be difficult to gain employment because of loss of driver’s license, passport or professional licenses.
If you have recently gone through the divorce process and you feel that the child support amount is unrealistic based on your income, it is important to locate a family law attorney that specializes in child support. You have the option to appeal the amount in front of a judge, but you cannot do this without a legal representative. An attorney will know the process to get the amount modified. However, it will be your responsibility to provide your attorney with documentation to support why the required child support payment is unrealistic for you to pay. This may be a letter from an employer stating thatyou have been terminated,or it might be pay stubs to prove that you changed jobs and you are not making as much money as before. You will need to provide bills or leases to prove your expenses.
Your attorney will be aware of your state’s laws regarding the penalty process. If you have the unfortunate experience of being penalized for failure to pay support, a lawyer can represent you in this process as well. Your obligation to pay child support does not cease if your ex-wife refuses your visitation rights. Child support and violation of custody and visitation orders are independent in the eyes of the law. If your visitation rights are being frustrated or denied, you have remedies so you must report it to your attorney. Addressing child support issues requires immediate attention as the retroactive application of the modified child support order has limitations.