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Refusing to Pay Child Support? Here Are Actions the State Can Take

Missouri law is crystal clear that parents are obligated to financially support their children. Most parents who divorce or have a child together without being married have a child support order in place. This order directs one parent to make regular child support payments.

But what happens if you don’t pay? Not only will you miss your monthly payment, but unpaid support will continue to pile up. Eventually, many parents owe thousands of dollars.

To spur the parent to pay, the state can take certain actions, which our Jefferson City family law attorney explains below. Please contact us if you need to modify the child support order.

Withholding Income

The state can instruct your employer to withhold income and send it to the state for child support. The employer can also withhold additional income if you have child support arrears. Of course, if you aren’t working, or if you are getting paid under the table, then this step will be ineffective.

Suspending Licenses

The state issues licenses, so they can suspend them, too. This is a way to put pressure on you to start paying child support. Of course, suspending a driver’s license makes it difficult to get to work and earn a living, so this isn’t likely to be the first step the state takes.

Reporting Parents to the Credit Bureaus

Failing to pay child support can impact your credit report. The state will report any missed payments to the credit bureaus, which could shred your credit score. This will make it harder to get new credit.

Intercepting Tax Refunds

If you are getting a tax refund, then the state could intercept it and apply the amount to unpaid child support.

Obstructing Lottery Winnings

The state can also take lottery winnings and apply them to unpaid child support.

Filing a Lien on Property

A lien is a right to payment. The state might put a lien on your property. When the property is sold, then the state should get paid up to the amount of the lien. The state often takes this step when unpaid child support has accrued.

Seeking Contempt

The state might also seek civil or criminal contempt for failing to pay child support. When a judge holds a person in civil contempt, they can take remedial action to spur you to start paying child support. This could include fining you or even sending you to jail. Once you start paying, the judge will release you from jail.

With criminal contempt, any sanction is punitive in nature, such as time in jail or a fine. The goal is to punish you, and you can’t get out of jail early by starting to pay.

Contempt is an extreme step, but the state has sought contempt proceedings against many parents.

Call Us to Discuss Modification

If you can’t make your child support payment, reach out to Call & Gentry Law Group, LLC. We can submit a request for modification, which will prevent child support obligations from growing uncontrollably and can protect your credit.