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Can Unpaid Child Support Result in Jail Time?

If a person fails to pay child support, there is a possibility they could face jail time, should they continue to fail to meet their obligations. This happens if they become held in contempt of court.

Here’s what you need to know.

Seeking contempt of court

Any time a person fails to obey a court order, they could be held in contempt of court. Child support is a court-ordered payment, so failure to meet obligations for child support meet the definition of contempt of court.

The recipient parent could choose to petition the court to hold the delinquent parent in contempt of court. They do so by asking for a hearing in front of a judge. The delinquent parent then gets served a document ordering them to attend the hearing and explain their delinquency.

Failure to attend such a hearing may result in the court deciding to issue a warrant for the delinquent parent’s arrest. Even if the delinquent parent does attend the hearing, there’s still a possibility they could be jailed for violating the order to pay child support.

Of course, jail is a last resort as a punishment. Judges will first listen to explanations from the delinquent parent regarding their inability to pay. If a delinquent parent has a history of on-time payments and misses one, it is not likely a judge will immediately decide to throw them in jail. Jail is reserved for circumstances in which the parent is grossly delinquent and is unwilling to pay child support despite being able to, or otherwise shirks their duties irresponsibly.

For more information about the penalties for failure to pay child support, contact an experienced family lawyer in Minneapolis at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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