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Can I Go To Jail For Not Paying Child Support?

January 7th, 2010

Yes. You may be placed in jail for up to six months for not paying child support. The legal basis for placing you in jail is “contempt of court.” Contempt of court is a legal term that means you are not following a court order. You may also be fined up to $600 for each violation and have to pay attorney’s fees and court costs. Paying child support is painfull enough let alone compounding the issue with these additional fees.

You have the right to be represented by an attorney throughout a contempt proceeding. Legal aid services may be a solution but this usually takes time to find an attorney that will represent your fathers rights. If two conditions are satisfied, you also have the right for the government to provide you with that attorney free of charge:

1) You must prove that your income is very low or you have no income.

2) The result of the hearing must be that you are likely to be placed in jail.

In some cases, the law allows you to be imprisoned for a specific amount of time and/or pay a fine. This happens when you are criminally prosecuted and imprisoned for nonpayment, which is a felony. As of September 1, 1999, a felony conviction is sufficient to deport someone who is not a citizen of the United States.

Unfortunately, your child support order will continue while you are in jail. You will need to petition the court to ask for a reduction in your child support amount based on what you can earn while in jail or in prison.

While this may be difficult, it is extremely important that you try to do this. It is up to the court to determine whether to decrease your child support because you have been imprisoned. In most cases the court finds favor to father.

Many non-custodial fathers believe that if they get behind at a time when they are legitimately unable to make a payment, what they owe can later be reduced or discounted by the court when an explanation is given. However, if you wait to explain your changed circumstances, the court will be unable to reduce the back payments you owe. So it is very important that you notify the court immediately, provide proof of the reduction in income, and ask that your payments be reduced accordingly. If you do this, the court may temporarily or permanently reduce the amount of future payments.

You have rights as a father and need to use them, speak to a legal representative and have them determine how you can receive help