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Bucks County Divorce Attorneys > Blog > Family Law > What Happens When a Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?

What Happens When a Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?


In a divorce settlement, it is common for there to be a monthly payment from one parent to another to help with the expenses of raising a child or children. This payment is called a child support payment. Typically the custodial parent, the one who cares for the underage youth the majority of the time, receives the payment from the non-custodial parent.

Child support is different from spousal maintenance payments because child support is there to directly pay for the cost of child rearing, from food to healthcare. Because these payments are designed for the health and safety of children, there are a range of consequences for parents who ignore a child support order. Talk to a Pennsylvania divorce attorney about your situation.

Failure to Pay Child Support in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

In every state, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it is the legal obligation of parents to support children financially. Often, a marital settlement agreement will make an arrangement regarding finances. At that time, some non-custodial parents accept their responsibility to pay child support while a child is a minor.

Unfortunately, in some cases, things change over time and non-custodial parents run into problems for not paying child support. This only creates more legal problems and hurt feelings. The consequences for not paying child support can be quite strong.

When you do not pay the full child support payment agreed to in a divorce settlement, you could be:

  • Held in contempt of court
  • Fined hundreds of dollars
  • Incarcerated for up to six months
  • Have your bank accounts seized
  • Put on probation for up to six months
  • Have your workers’ compensation settlements seized
  • Suspension of your driver’s license or occupational license
  • Lien against your primary residence or other property you own
  • Reported to a credit bureau

With consequences like these, it is clear that it is not to a parent’s advantage to stop payments. This is true even if you have lost your job or become sick. If something happens in your life where you can not afford child support payments, it is important that you immediately take steps. Talk to a Pennsylvania divorce attorney about possible solutions, including petitioning the court for an adjustment to your payments.

If you are a non-custodial parent who is unable to make payments or if you are a custodial parent who is not receiving payments, you need the assistance of a family lawyer. Payments can be enforced or payments can be modified, particularly if there was a substantial change in the financial circumstances of one or both parents.

Whether you reside in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, your divorce settlement is protected by the law. If you have questions about child support payments, the experienced Bucks County family attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand can help. Let our lawyers take care of all the technical aspects of your divorce and guide you toward the best path for your future, whether that is modifying a child support arrangement or enforcing payments. Schedule your consultation today, call 215-968-6602.


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