When parents negotiate a child custody agreement, they generally must also determine a child support agreement. After all, both parents are responsible for supporting their children.
The child support arrangement usually depends on the financial need of the custodial parent and the financial ability of the other parent to pay. However, what happens if the paying parent does not pay what they agree to in the child support agreement?
What are the consequences of failing to pay child support?
Child support agreements are a court order. Therefore, the court can take action if individuals violate the agreement. For example, if parents fail to pay child support even if they have the resources, they are considered guilty of nonsupport under Kentucky law.
In these cases, the child’s other parent could file a motion to enforce the child support agreement. Then, the Kentucky Division of Child Support (DCS) could take actions to collect money or compel the parent to pay.
These actions often include:
- Placing wage garnishments on the parent’s income;
- Taking the parent’s tax refunds;
- Placing liens on the parent’s property;
- Seizing bank accounts or other properties;
- Suspending the parent’s driver’s license; and
- Denying the parent’s passport.
If parents do not pay support for longer than six months, the court could hold them in contempt, which could lead to more than $2,000 in fines, potential jail time and perhaps even a felony charge on their record.
Missing one payment will not result in the consequences listed above. However, failing to pay even once could make it difficult for parents to catch up on payments, which could lead to delinquency.
Remember: You can modify the child support agreement
All of these penalties demonstrate why it is so important for parents to modify their child support agreement if they cannot pay it.
No child support order is set in stone. If parents can prove that they or the other parent have experienced a significant and lasting change in their circumstances, courts will generally grant a modification to decrease or even increase child support payments. These changes could be the result of:
- Job loss or new employment;
- A considerable change in income; or
- A significant change in childcare costs.
The process of modifying a child support agreement may take time and effort. However, it is better for individuals to proactively adjust the agreement to meet their needs than to risk facing these serious consequences.