Understanding Contempt if You Fail to Pay Child Support
Child support is an important part of family law. It is designed to make sure that the financial needs of children are met. In some instances, a non-custodial parent will fail to pay child support and this comes with serious consequences for both the custodial parent and the child. In Franklin, as throughout the rest of Tennessee, failing to pay child support has significant consequences for the non-custodial parent, as well. Below, one of our Franklin child support attorneys explains contempt further if you have failed to pay child support.
What is Contempt of Court?
A person may be charged with contempt of court if they disobey a court order or obstruct the administration of justice. In regards to child support, a person may be charged with contempt if they fail to pay child support that was mandated by the court. Custodial parents can file a petition with the court to find a non-custodial parent who does not pay child support in contempt of court. If they are successful, the non-custodial parent can be ordered to pay the child support, pay fines, and even pay the custodial parent’s legal fees.
Family law judges have a great deal of authority when petitions are filed. When a contempt petition is filed based on unpaid child support, the judge may determine how to move forward depending on the payor’s reasoning for disobeying the court order. If there is a valid reason for failing to pay, a judge may show more leniency than if there was not. On the other hand, if the reason was not legitimate, such as the payor was simply trying to spite the recipient, a judge may deal with them more harshly.
How to Avoid Being Charged with Contempt of Court
It is true that child support orders are legally binding, but that does not mean they are written in stone. If you are having difficulty making child support payments, it is essential that you contact a Franklin child support lawyer. If you can show that there has been a significant change of circumstances that is preventing you from paying child support, a judge may decide to modify the order.
For example, if you have lost your job and are having trouble finding new employment, that could constitute a significant change of circumstances that could allow you to temporarily or permanently modify the amount of child support you have to pay. It is important that you petition for a modification as soon as possible. Even if you are successful with your request, you will still have to pay any back child support payments you still owe.
Our Child Support Attorneys in Franklin Can Advise On Your Case
Child support is always a complex issue, and it can have the potential to become contentious. At Beal, Nations & Crutcher, our Franklin child support attorneys can help you modify the order so you do not face any of the serious consequences associated with non-payment. Call us now at 615-861-2304 or contact us online to request a consultation and to learn more.