Incarceration as Punishment for Missed Child Support

When a family in New York separates, the court might issue a child support order that requires one parent to pay the other a certain amount of money every month. In some cases, the amount ordered by the court may become more than the noncustodial parent can afford. Over time, the debt due to missed payment mounts, and the family court system might impose penalties.

The courts levy a number of possible sanctions when a parent fails to meet their financial obligations. For example, if the total amount is not paid willingly, up to 65 percent of a parent's paycheck can be withheld, their tax refunds and bank accounts can be seized, and they can lose their driver's license. Those parents who just cannot afford to make the payments may be sent to jail.

According to a report, there are thousands of men incarcerated every year because they are unable to financially support their children. In some cases, these parents are only given a few months after they are released from jail to make a sizable payment toward their obligation. If they are unable to pay the money, they face another term of incarceration.

Parents who face jail time for not paying court-ordered child support may be able to get help from an attorney who focuses on family law. Attorneys could request support modifications to make the payments more affordable. With a lower monthly payment obligation, parents may be able to avoid the cycle of imprisonment associated with past-due child support.