When a person fails to make court-ordered child support payments, there are penalties he may face. The penalties may depend on the jurisdiction in which the payments are ordered, but often include wage garnishment and license suspension. A person may also lose the right to obtain a passport as a penalty for failure to make child support payments. Some jurisdictions will even divert tax refunds to the parent who is owed child support money. In cases in which child support payments are seriously past due and involve large amounts of money, a person may even spend time in prison as a consequence of not paying child support.
One of the consequences of not paying child support is wage garnishment. If a person fails to make court-ordered child support payments, a judge may order the garnishment of his paycheck. When this occurs, money for child support is removed from the party’s paycheck before he receives it. It is usually sent to a child support agency’s processing department before it is forwarded on to the receiving party. Wage garnishment allows child support agencies to ensure payments are made, even if the non-custodial parent is reluctant to fulfill his obligations.
Sometimes driver’s license suspension is also used as a consequence of not paying child support. While this measure doesn't guarantee that the paying parent will catch up on child support payments, it may interfere enough with his lifestyle that he feels compelled to pay. In some jurisdictions, professional licenses can be suspended in addition to driver’s licenses.
In some places, a person may have his right to secure a passport suspended for not paying child support. This may serve two purposes. First, it may prove to be an annoyance and compel the paying parent to catch up on his child support payments. Second, it may help to prevent a person from leaving the country in order to avoid child support enforcement.
Tax refund interception and property liens may also be used when a party fails to make child support payments. All or some of a payer's tax refund may be diverted to the receiving parent. Some jurisdictions also allow child support agencies to place liens on the paying parent’s property. For example, a lien may be placed on the payer’s home as a result of his failure to pay child support.
After a person has been given many chances to pay child support but failed to do so, a judge may order the person to spend time in jail. This penalty is often reserved for cases in which the parent owes a good deal of money yet refuses to pay it. It may also be used when a parent willfully defies a court order or appears defiant in court.