When child support is set by a judge, the amount of child support to be paid on a monthly basis becomes an Order of the Court. If child support is not paid-in-full or is not paid timely, then the parent owing child support can be found in contempt of court and put in jail! Judges demand that their orders are followed, and they take little to no excuses for failure to do what they order someone to do. Although contempt of court is the usual enforcement action for failure to pay child support, there are other criminal statutes and license regulations that can be used.
Contempt of court is broken down as criminal contempt and civil contempt. Criminal contempt is a quasi criminal proceeding to preserve the power and integrity of the court which punishes someone who disobeys a court order. If found in criminal contempt of court, a person could be sentenced to 10 days in jail and a fine of $50 per violation. Civil contempt is a civil proceeding brought to force compliance with a court order. A person found in civil contempt will be jailed until she complies with the court order; she “holds the keys to the jailhouse door,” being set free as soon as she complies with the court order.
Additionally, a person can be arrested criminally for nonsupport. Nonsupport, a class A misdemeanor carrying jail time up to 11 months 29 days and a fine up to $2,500, is defined as “fail[ing] to provide support which that person is able to provide and knows the person has a duty to provide to a minor child or to a child or spouse who, because of physical or mental disability, is unable to be self-supporting.” If the parent ordered to pay child support has a prior conviction of nonsupport or has left Tennessee to avoid paying the child support obligation, that parent can be charged with flagrant nonsupport, a Class E felony carrying from 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
Finally, failure to timely pay child support obligations can result having a driver’s license and professional license, i.e. doctor, lawyer, contractor, etc, suspended until the child support obligation is paid in full. A person may also be denied a passport or have a passport revoked if an outstanding child support obligation exists. State and federal income tax refunds can be intercepted, and the proceeds applied to any outstanding child support obligations. The most common method is to administratively revoke a person’s driver’s license if he is not paying timely.
Turner Law Offices, P.C. has a team of competent child support attorneys intimately familiar with enforcing child support obligation. Speak to our child support lawyer to determine the best way to collect child support for you! Request Free Consultation Online or call our office to schedule a free in person consultation with one of our contempt lawyers.