What Happens if a Parent does not Pay Court-Ordered Child Support?
Various enforcement mechanisms exist to compel parents to comply with their support obligations. The court has the power to hold a party in contempt for violating a support order and may order said parent be incarcerated until s/he pays. The non-payor must be allowed an opportunity to “purge” the contempt, meaning to comply with the order. But if s/he does not and if the parent has the apparent ability to pay, the court has the power send them to jail until s/he pays. In addition, many states have criminal penalties for failing to pay child support. Congress also has enacted many enforcement mechanisms, creating greater collaboration between federal and state governments. These include suspension of driver’s licenses and professional licenses, seizure of tax refunds, seizure of bank accounts and investment accounts, and even publishing the name and picture of the non-paying parent on posters and in newspapers.