Most parents have more than just a passing worry when it comes to how a divorce might affect their children. The law backs parents up on that issue, and in fact, the family courts place the health and well-being of minor children above almost everything else. When it comes to child support, the courts have set guidelines to follow and punishments for those who fail to do so. Read on to learn more.
State Law and Federal Law at Work
The way that the best interests of the child are dealt with is mandated by both state and federal law, and then the local judges are left a great deal of leeway on specific issues. Each child support issue is unique, but judges are bound by a few guidelines that are heavy on the financial side of things. The amount of child support ordered is based on income and is determined based on the state's median income. What you owe in California will be vastly different than what you owe in Georgia, regardless of your income.
The federal government, on the other hand, steps in when it comes to enforcement. The Deadbeat Parent's Punishment Act makes it a federal crime to cross state lines in an attempt to avoid the financial obligation to a minor child.
If You Fail to Pay
Not only is honoring your child support obligation the right thing to do, it's the law and it's a law that is strictly enforced. You may have seen on your local news child support round-ups where deadbeats were woken at the crack of dawn and arrested for being behind on payments. This is just one example of what might happen to those that don't take this responsibility seriously. You might also encounter:
- Wage garnishment (where funds are removed from your paycheck before you get it).
- Income tax refunds seizure.
- Liens placed on property.
- Jail time.
- Loss of government benefits like food stamps and Social Security.
Don't Just Ignore this Issue
Local child support agencies will work with those who've fallen behind, so do the right thing and work out payment arrangements to get caught up and avoid stiff penalties. If you've had a loss or change in income, or have been ill, speak to a family law attorney about scheduling a hearing to have the amount of child support modified. Whatever you do, don't just ignore it.
Speak to a family law attorney for help with child support, visitation, and custody issues. For more information, check out websites like http://www.siouxlandlaw.com.