A child support warrant is an order issued by a judge to arrest someone for nonpayment of child support and to bring that person into court to resolve the matter. Child support warrants are issued when people have not paid child support for an extended period of time, owe a lot of money in support, or cannot be located. Both civil and criminal warrants are available.
Most typically, a civil child support warrant is issued. The parent owed support attends court with a copy of the child support agreement and proof that the noncustodial parent is not paying support. After reviewing the facts of the case, the judge can issue a warrant for contempt as the noncustodial parent is not complying with the court order to pay support. The noncustodial parent must appear in court to show cause for not paying support and law enforcement agencies are authorized to make an arrest to bring the parent into court.
There are situations where a prosecutor may file a case against a parent who is not paying child support. In these cases, a criminal child support warrant is issued. Criminal warrants are used when the nonpayment of support is classified as a felony, usually determined by the amount owed. The definitions for felony nonpayment vary by region and people should familiarize themselves with these definitions before approaching a prosecutor to request a filing of felony charges.
Issuing a warrant does not necessarily result in the appearance of the nonpaying parent in court. People can evade child support and may choose to ignore a child support warrant. Cooperation of law enforcement officers who can pursue people for nonpayment is needed to get subjects into court. Once in court, the subject can be questioned to determine why the court order for child support was violated. The goal of a child support warrant is to recover some or all of the monies owed and to make adjustments to the court order, if needed, to keep the parent current with child support in the future.
Failure to pay child support can have significant consequences. Wages may be garnished by court order to collect support directly from a person's paycheck. When criminal warrants are issued, people may be listed as wanted criminals and the warrants will interfere with security checks and background checks. If someone is concerned about making child support payments, it is advisable to contact the court to let the court know that the court order cannot be complied with due to changes in circumstances like job loss and to request a hearing to make adjustments to the child support agreement.