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The consequences of not paying child support

After a divorce involving children or when an unmarried couple has a child from their relationship, typically one parent is a custodial parent and the other is the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent is obligated to pay monthly child support to the custodial parent, and, depending on the circumstances, may have visitation rights to see the child.

Child support guidelines vary from state to state. In Florida, child support guidelines take into consideration the number of overnights the child spends with each parent. Depending on this, the child support payment is accordingly increased, decreased or completely eliminated. However, when a parent is court-ordered to pay child support, he or she must do so. Failure to pay child support has consequences.

Recently, federal prosecutors arrested and took into custody a 50-year old man for failure to pay child support. The man had accumulated more than $1.2 million in child support arrears. The man apparently underreported his income for over 10 years and moved from New York to Florida to Thailand to avoid paying child support. He has three children from two previous marriages. The Office of Inspector General maintains a list of deadbeat parents and includes information about their whereabouts and the sum of monies they owe.

It is extremely important for a non-custodial parent to understand that when a court orders child support, it is important to do one's best to meet that obligation. Failure to pay child support may result in jail time, suspension of one's driver's license and more. If circumstances arise where one is not able to pay the amount because of a loss of one's job or decrease in income, it is crucial to file for a modification of child support. The laws surrounding these issues may overwhelm a person, and thus one should not hesitate to seek an expert's opinion on one's particular situation to get an honest assessment.

Source: Huffington Post, "Child Support Offender, Robert Sand, Arrested In Los Angeles," Dec. 19, 2012

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