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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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  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.

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