What Happens If I Don’t Pay Child Support?

Are you behind on child support payments? You could face some serious administrative and judicial penalties if you don’t pay your past-due child support obligations right away. Whether you simply forgot to pay, couldn’t afford to pay, or refused to pay for whatever reason, know that you won’t get away with it unpunished.

The state of New York will enforce your past-due child support payments and do whatever it takes to ensure you will take care of current and future payments. There are various tools the state will utilize to collect all arrears, which we discuss below.

Administrative Enforcement

Your child support payments will be enforced through one or more administrative/automated enforcement processes, which don’t require you to go to court. They include:

Add amount: Your child support order may temporarily increase by up to 50% until you pay off your arrears.

Tax refund offset: If you’re expecting a federal or state income tax refund, it may be used to pay your late child support obligations. The state tax refund offset will apply if you owe at least $50, while the federal offset will apply if you owe $500 or more.

Lottery prize intercept: Hit the jackpot? You’re not as lucky as you think. The government will intercept your lottery winnings if you owe at least $50 in child support and your winnings total at least $600.

Property execution (PEX): Your bank accounts and other financial assets may be seized to cover past-due child support payments. The amount owed must be worth at least two months of your current obligation amount, excluding retroactive support, and at least $300. This penalty won’t apply if you’re paying by payroll deduction unless you have $3,000 or more in your bank.

Driver’s license suspension: If you owe equal to or greater than 4 months of your current child support amount and you’re not paying by payroll deduction, your driver’s license may get suspended. The DMV may grant you a restricted license that will only allow you to drive to and from work.

Credit bureau reporting: Your credit may be negatively affected if you owe at least $1,000 in child support or are two months behind on payments, whichever occurs first. This is because your name will be submitted to Consumer Reporting Agencies under these circumstances, resulting in problems obtaining credit such as credit cards, mortgages, and car loans.

Referral to the NYS Division of Taxation and Finance: Your assets may be seized to satisfy past-due child support payments if you owe at least 4 months of your current obligation amount, more than $500, and have not paid by payroll deduction in the last 45 days.

Denial of new and renewed passports: If you owe at least $2,500 in child support, you will not be able to obtain or renew your passport until you pay all of it.

Denial of new and renewed NYC business and professional licenses: Your professional license may be jeopardized if you’re at least 4 months behind on child support. New York agencies that administer these licenses will require you to pay your arrears, enter into a payment agreement, or provide employment information to start payroll deductions.

Judicial Enforcement

The government may utilize a variety of judicial enforcement processes to handle your late payments of child support. Judicial sanctions will require you to attend a court hearing, which can be much more frightening than administrative processes. You may experience one or more of the following judicial enforcement processes, as you can see below:

Violation petition: This method of enforcement is applied after all administrative enforcement options (listed above) have been exhausted. A violation petition will request the Family Court to enforce your late payments, resulting in any of the following outcomes:

  • Money judgment
  • Lien
  • Cash deposit
  • Referral to STEP (described below)
  • Arrest/incarceration

Suspension of state-issued professional, business, and occupational licenses: If you owe at least four months of child support, your state-issued licenses may be suspended through the court.

Referral for criminal prosecution: If you willfully failed to pay your past-due child support payments, you may face federal charges. This may occur if you owe a substantial amount of child support, willfully failed to comply with your support order, and other enforcement options have failed.

Participation in a work program: If a judge finds that you couldn’t pay your arrears due to lack of employment or low-paying work, they may refer you to the Support Through Employment Program (STEP), which will help you with education, job training, and placement.

Questions about your child support order? Facing trouble for being late on your payments? You can count on our Westchester County family lawyers to help turn your problems into solutions. Contact us at (845) 605-4330 to learn more!

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