Despite being obligated by the court to do so, there are those who will find themselves in contempt of court for failing to pay their child support obligations. This may occur because the person simply doesn’t have the money, but there are also those instances where the person simply doesn’t want to pay it.
No matter what the circumstance may be, one who is failing to pay child support is in violation of an order of the court. What must be understood is that this is an obligation the court has dictated, and a failure to pay the amount of child support mandated by the court is a violation of the law, punishable under Arizona statute § 25-511.
What Happens When You Fail to Pay Child Support?
Understand that no matter what reason you have for failing to pay your child support, this is a violation of a court order. You are in contempt of court the moment your payment is late, which can lead to the judge ordering a warrant for your arrest.
That may seem harsh, but Arizona lawmakers have sought to ensure that parents who are obligated to pay child support are upholding their obligations. Failure to do so can lead to such things as your driver’s license being revoked, professional licenses being revoked, your paycheck being garnished, and loss of federal income tax. It can also lead to jail.
One thing that many neglect to see is that the failure to pay your child support can lead to you being arrested and going to jail. Depending on the amount owed and the number of violations that a person has, this can either result in a misdemeanor or a sixth degree felony.
How Long Can Someone Go to Jail For Not Paying Child Support?
If you fail to pay your child support there are two different degrees of severity that this falls under. As mentioned before, you can either be charged with a felony or misdemeanor.
If you are found guilty of the misdemeanor charge, this can result in a fine up to $2500 as well as six months in jail. That time is generally served at a county workhouse or in a county jail.
However, if you are charged with the felony you can get as much as 18 months in jail. In this case, you will likely be sent to one of the state facilities, where you will be forced to serve the majority of your time before you are released back into society.
This may seem like a rather severe penalty, state lawmakers have wanted to make it clear that they expect parents to pay their court ordered child support. There is really no way to get around that.
Also understand that while you may not want to pay this support, spending 18 months in prison is going to create a serious financial hardship for you. Not only are you likely to lose your job, your home, and any savings you may have, but you are going to have to rebuild your life and all of this can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. It clearly isn’t worth it.
How Can I Avoid Going to Jail If I Am Getting Behind on Payments?
If you find that you are getting behind in your child support or if you know that you are not going to be able to pay the upcoming payment, it is time for you to be proactive. You should begin by contacting the other parent of your child or children, and see if something can be worked out that will allow you to catch up on payments and a future date.
Consider that the other parent doesn’t want to see you go to jail either. They need your support, and if you are in prison they are not going get it. If you have been doing what you needed to up to this point, it is likely that something can be worked out.
However, that is not always the case. In this circumstance what you should do is contact the court and see if something can be worked out with the judge or magistrate that is handling your case. The court is like-minded in the fact that they don’t want to see you go to prison either. This means that the state becomes responsible for caring for your children, because you are unable to do so. This can lead them to be much more amenable to your circumstance, but you need to be proactive about it and discuss this with the court before it becomes a major issue.
Can Someone Be So Far Behind That Jail is The Only Option?
If you have fallen behind in your child support by more than three months or by more than $1000, you can be sure that the court is going to see you as a derelict who simply doesn’t want to make payments. In this case, you can be sure that there is already an order seeking for you to be arrested and brought before the judge to explain yourself.
You don’t want to be spending your life looking over your shoulder hoping that you’re not going be pulled over for some kind of minor violation, only to find yourself in jail. Instead, you need to take action by contacting the court and setting up some kind of arrangement for you to come in and discuss the situation with the judge.
However, this is not something you should do on your own. You need to seek the assistance of legal counsel to direct you on exactly how to resolve this matter, and that is why you should contact us here at JacksonWhite.
We are here to advise you on what is the best course of action for you to take. We can discuss your situation and depending of the situation, discuss a number of possibilities. Should you decide to retain our services, we will happily work with the court to try to resolve your situation in keep you out of jail.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.