Can I be criminally charged for failing to pay child support?

Can I be criminally charged for failing to pay child support?

An individual who fails to pay child support can face prosecution by the state and be ordered to pay heavy fines, as well as face time behind bars. In fact, this family law issue can change into a criminal matter that can be punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $2000.

Furthermore, unless the party who has failed to pay court ordered child support makes a cash bond deposit of at least $500 or a quarter of the back owed child support, whichever is the greater amount, then they shall be held in police custody until they are arraigned before a judge. Failing to pay court ordered child support is a very serious matter. However, for a parent to be in jail is not in the best interest of all those involved in the matter.

Thus, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has several tools at its disposal to ensure that the parent required to pay child support do so in a timely manner and comply with the court order.

The state can issue an income withholding order that can be enforced to collect both current as well as any past due child support payments. Typically, all new child support orders as well as any child support orders that have been modified are required to include an income withholding order by default except if both parents, as well as the court, agree on using a different payment method.

It is important to note that a withholding order doesn’t apply only to income payment checks. Child support payments can be withheld from other income sources such as Social Security benefits and unemployment benefits, as well as workers compensation claims. Even insurance claims and independent contracting payments can be subject to income withholding.

Back owed child support payments can also be withheld from an individual’s annual federal and state tax refunds. The amount of back-owed child support has to meet a certain amount or threshold before any federal or state tax refunds can be intercepted and have the payments deducted from them. There are separate threshold levels for both the federal and state tax refunds.

Source: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, “Enforcing Support,” Accessed Sept. 7, 2015

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