concept incrementing finance with moneyboxThis is the next post in my series discussing how various child support laws are applied to family law cases. My last post explained how high child support payments can potentially impact one’s award of spousal support. In this post I will be explaining why it is important to proactively handle the situation if one is unable to make a child support payment, and offer the Court a solution if one is in arrears.

Virginia child support arrears can lead to additional fines, jail time, and the suspension of a professional license

Falling behind on one’s child support is a very serious matter. When one is ordered to pay support, the order is coming directly from the court. Violating this order does more than annoy your ex; it is breaking the law. When one becomes significantly behind in child support they face stiff penalties which will cost them more money, potential jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, and even the suspension of a professional license. Ignoring one’s child support arrears can and will significantly impact one’s life. That is why if one is unable to keep up with payments, the first step is to contact a lawyer for support.

There are many options one can choose if they are unable to make a child support payment. If a parent has lost a job, requires a costly medical procedure, or been the victim of a crime, accident, or act of God, it is often possible to simply ask the court to reduce one’s payments. If a parent experiences a significant dip in income, the Court will reevaluate their payments and set support at an amount the parent can afford. If the parent is short for the month as a one time event- for example one needs to make a necessary house repair, or had a one time, necessary expense- they may simply ask the receiving parent if they can make up the payment at a later date. If a parent has faithfully and responsibly paid child support up until the point of a financial setback, then Virginia courts will often be understanding.

A judge will not view a perceived “deadbeat” parent kindly or give leniency

However, the court expects all parents to try to provide for their children and does not give perceived “deadbeats” leniency. If a parent is far behind on child support, has not attempted to pay the other parent anything, and has not made any attempt to fix the problem, the court is likely to begin garnishing wages until the payment, interest, and fines are paid off. If a parent wishes to avoid having money automatically withdrawn from their checking account, it is important to face the situation head on. If a parent chooses to accept responsibility, an attorney can often help them negotiate a payment plan that they can afford, that will also eventually payback the money owed. Parents who owe money should be aware that the chances of a court ‘forgiving’ their balance is unlikely. The best way to handle child support arrears is to face the problem and begin to work with the Court to find a solution.

If you are behind on your child support, the longer you ignore the problem, the worse the consequences will be. Our family law attorney can help parents who have fallen onto financially hard times negotiate a payment plan that is affordable and that can help get them back on track. Contact our law office today for a consultation.