What Happens if You Can’t Pay Child Support?

When a Minnesota court issues a child support order, the parent responsible for paying has a duty to keep making payments until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever is later. This duty may extend longer if the child has special needs. Any changes to a support order must be made by a family court judge.

When a support order is created, the judge writing it cannot predict the future. He or she cannot know whether a parent will lose a job, get a raise, face a medical emergency or even be jailed for a crime. The judge also cannot know whether the needs of the child will change.

If you have experienced a sudden life change or financial difficulty, it is essential that you continue to make your child support payments. This is true even if you are unemployed or incarcerated. Parents who don’t pay may face enforcement actions such as:

  • Interest
  • Seizure of assets
  • Criminal prosecution
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Suspension of occupational licenses

A choice not to work or to take a lower-paying job will not generally excuse a parent from their obligations. In these cases, a court will use an “imputed income” to determine how much you should be earning and order payments accordingly.

If you have a county child support worker, you should contact that person immediately to let them know about the changes in your circumstances. You can also file a motion in court to seek a modification of the child support order.

A court may consider modifying your order if you can prove that there has been a substantial financial change for either parent. In fact, a court will not modify an order unless there is a need to modify that order by an amount of at least 20 percent.

If you have questions about child support payments or modifying a support order, schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable Minnesota child support attorney at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. today.

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