Apr, 2016

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posted in Wilka, Welter & Ash LLP Law Blog.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support?

A Wide Range of Penalties You Can Avoid

There are myriad reasons someone may feel compelled to skip child support payments. A person might feel resentful at a former spouse, want custody of the child or simply have difficulty affording the payments. Either way, you could face serious consequences if you fail to pay the bill.

How the System Works

The state government expects both parents to contribute equal portions of their income to a child’s upbringing. In family law proceedings, judges may order citizens to pay child support as part of a divorce or child custody case. To avoid penalties, you should pay in full and on time every month.

Financial Consequences

The justice system and Department of Social Services can punish delinquent parents in several ways. These penalties increase when one owes relatively large sums. The state may confiscate various assets, such as investments and cash. It could place a lien on your house that forces you to pay child support if you sell the property.

The authorities often report missed payments to credit reporting agencies. This would affect your credit rating and have a variety of harmful effects. People with low scores pay higher insurance premiums and interest rates. Negative information could also make it harder to rent a house or apartment.

If you fail to make multiple payments, the state of South Dakota might prevent you from traveling abroad, running a business or driving a car. It may cancel your passport when you owe $2,500 or more. Several types of state-issued licenses could be revoked if the unpaid amount reaches $1,000.

Officials have the power to intercept funds from numerous income sources. They can garnish wages and most government benefits. The state could force you to pay child support if you receive Social Security, unemployment, workers’ compensation or disabled veterans benefits. It may also confiscate money from a personal injury lawsuit.

The government frequently diverts state and federal tax refunds to child support. It can do the same with any check that the Internal Revenue Service sends to a taxpayer. South Dakota seized almost 4,900 federal stimulus payments in 2008, according to the Aberdeen News.

South Dakota is one of more than 30 states that allow courts to add interest to child support debts. This increases the amount of money that officials can seize or intercept if they target your assets, earnings or benefits.

Criminal Consequences

Courts treat intentional nonpayment as a criminal offense. The penalties become especially harsh if you move to another state. A judge could order you to spend as many as 180 days in prison, and you might need to pay fines as well. South Dakota courts normally reserve these punishments for parents who make no attempt to fulfill their obligations.

If you need legal help, a family law attorney can assist you. The experienced professionals at Wilka & Welter, LLP handle a wide range of child support and custody cases. Please contact us via email or phone to discuss your situation.