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What happens when child support goes unpaid in Louisiana

Getting divorced is like walking through a minefield. You think you've avoided one issue, and something else blows up instead. If you received custody of your children in your divorce or while your divorce is pending, you might feel like you missed a major potential problem. Unfortunately, it opens up the potential for a lot of other issues, like what happens when your spouse won't pay child support.

You have the daily responsibilities of caring for your child, as well as the expenses that come with it. Your ability to work could be restricted, leaving you dependent on child support to pay bills. When it doesn't come like it should, you may need to ask the courts to step in and help.

Failing to pay child support can have serious consequences

There are many reasons that people may refuse to pay child support. Some people are unemployed, and choose to remain unemployed to avoid the obligation. Others may feel like they shouldn't have to pay if they don't get to set the terms for custody and visitation.

Sometimes non-custodial parents feel that child support, combined with any spousal support they may pay is too high. While the courts use a formula based on income, family size and needs, the amount ordered could feel too high for some. That's why the courts allow parents paying support to seek modifications, if the documentation exists to support their claim of needing a reduction.

Some may even claim that they worry about how their spouse will spend the support. Whatever the reason, failing to pay child support during a Louisiana divorce can cause issues for the non-paying parent.

First of all, if that parent hopes to obtain shared or full custody, a refusal to pay won't help. In general, the courts look to see how parents engage with the children and want to know that the child's best interests will always get put first. When a parent can't or won't pay child support, that raises questions about his or her ability or willingness to provide for the children.

Secondly, failing to pay child support can result in enforcement actions. Generally speaking, the courts issue child support as an order. Failing to pay becomes contempt of court. The custodial parent can ask the state to step in and help enforce that order.

Louisiana has several ways to enforce child support orders

When someone refuses to pay child support, the courts can garnish their wages, having their employer automatically deduct the support payment before issuing the wages as a check or direct deposit. Some people choose to frequently change jobs to avoid this kind of enforcement, while others work in cash industries.

In order to address that issue, the court has alternative options for enforcing child support orders. They can seize federal and state tax refunds, as well as any lottery winnings. In some cases, the court can suspend occupational, professional, hunting, fishing and drivers' licenses for non-payment. They can also suspend motor vehicle registrations and deny a person a passport. Sometimes, a non-paying parent could end up in a contempt of court hearing.

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The Law Offices of Ossie Brown
123 Saint Ferdinand Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Phone: 225-424-7388
Fax: 225-334-7824
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