According to Missouri law, the financial owed from a parent to a child is not negotiable. When a court issues a child support order, parents are expected to make every effort to comply. While there are exceptions that could allow for late payments or even changes to the order itself, many judges will aggressively pursue enforcement measures against a parent that does not pay.
So what happens if you don’t pay child support in Missouri? There are a number of actions the court could take. The government could take steps to seize money from your tax return or even your bank account. In some cases, you could even face the threat of jail time for the failure to pay your child support obligation.
It is important to remember that these harsh outcomes are never guaranteed. With the right legal counsel, it could be possible to avoid these issues by either reaching an agreement with the other parent or obtaining relief from the court. A J. Rench Law Firm, LLC is here to help you navigate these issues. Call right away for a free consultation.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
Child support orders provide non-custodial parents with clear, unambiguous support obligations they must pay each month. The failure to do so could result in a number of consequences, including a motion for contempt.
When the custodial parent believes that they have not received the support ordered by the court, they can file a motion to enforce the terms of the agreement. This motion could result in a number of serious consequences for a non-paying parent. Some of the enforcement tools that could be used include:
- Withholding earnings. The state could garnish a parent’s wages if they fail to make their support payments.
- Seizing funds. A parent could see certain funds that are controlled by the government seized to resolve a delinquent support obligation. This could include tax refunds or lottery winnings.
- License suspension. The state has the power to suspend a parent’s driving privileges based on the failure to pay child support.
The Potential for Jail Time in Missouri
When it comes to consequences for the failure to pay child support, arguably the most significant penalty is incarceration. Most parents that are behind on child support will never be locked up due to their failure to pay. However, there is a possibility of jail time in some cases.
The fastest way to face jail time due to the failure to pay child support is by refusing to appear in court and defend yourself. If the other parent files a motion with the court seeking to enforce the child support order, the judge will set a hearing. A parent that fails to appear at such a hearing could face a warrant for their arrest.
Of course, it is possible to be arrested and taken into custody even if you attend the hearing. Under the law, it is a crime to fail to pay child support in some cases. A delinquency of $5,000 could result in felony charges against you. There are also criminal penalties if you are at least six months behind during a 12-month period.
An order to appear and answer for your delinquency does not mean you are certain to face jail time. The court will give you a chance to respond, and you could avoid serious consequences if you have a valid reason why you are behind. Your best bet in these situations is to rely on the advice of legal counsel. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the more likely you are to remain out of jail.
Discuss your Child Support Delinquency with an Attorney in Missouri
If you are behind on your child support or have not been paid what you are owed by the other parent, it is vital that you seek legal counsel right away. An attorney could advise you on your rights and responsibilities when it comes to child support obligations. Reach out to the J. Rench Law Firm, LLC as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation.