Child support non-payment in Las Vegas is a hot topic whether you are the parent who pays support or receives it. Both parents may wonder what the process is if one of the parents doesn’t pay support.
How you handle an issue of non-payment of support can impact how the case ultimately gets resolved through the courts. You may need to work with a Las Vegas family law attorney to ensure your rights are represented in the best way possible. Here are eight things to know about child support arrears.
1. Non-payment of support typically begins with a contempt of court action
If a parent fails to pay child support, the first step is usually a contempt of court action before the family court judge. In a contempt of court action, the non-paying parent has to show why there is reasonable cause that they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for failing to meet their support obligation. Generally, the purpose of the contempt of court action is to prompt the parent to pay. The family court may issue penalties and take enforcement actions as it thinks is necessary to compel the non-paying parent to meet their obligation.
2. The court may take enforcement actions to collect overdue child support
When a parent doesn’t pay support, the Nevada Division of Welfare and Support Services steps in to help collect the funds on behalf of the children. There are a number of options available to collect support or otherwise encourage the parent to pay. Here are some of the enforcement actions available to the court:
- Withholding of income – sending payment directly from a parent’s paycheck
- Intercepting a tax refund
- Reporting the missing payments on the parent’s credit
- Driver’s license suspension
- Occupational license suspension
- Passport revocation
- Seizure of bank accounts
- Interception of lottery winnings
- Interest on missing payments
3. Non-payment of child support is a federal crime
A parent who doesn’t pay child support risks federal prosecution. Non-payment of support is a violation of United States law 18 USC § 228. The law says that it’s illegal for any parent to willfully fail to pay support for a child who lives in another state. It’s also unlawful for a parent to travel to another state in an attempt to avoid a support obligation. The outstanding support obligation must be one year or more past due or at least $5,000 for the federal law to apply.
In addition, for the federal law to apply, there must be multiple states involved. In other words, parents must live in different states. U.S. officials may bring the case in the state where the non-paying parent lives or where the child resides. A first offense may result in up to six months in federal prison, a fine, and restitution in the amount of the unpaid obligation. A second offense is punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine, and the same restitution. If you face federal charges of non-payment of support in Nevada, the court hears your case at the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas or the Bruce R. Thompson Federal Courthouse in Reno.
4. Non-payment of child support is a state crime
If you fail to pay child support, you face charges from the State of Nevada. Unlike federal charges, there’s no dollar amount minimum or time requirement for non-payment of child support charges in state court. You may face state charges for any amount of arrears. Nevada law 201.020 makes it against Nevada state law to fail to provide support for a child.
Even though you can face a state charge of non-payment of support for any amount of arrears, the possible penalties for non-payment of support depend on the overdue amount. For the first violation of less than $10,000, the maximum potential penalties are six months in jail, $1,000 in fines, and restitution in the amount of arrears. A second violation of less than $5,000 also carries the same possible penalties. For amounts greater than $10,000, a violation is a felony punishable by 1-5 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and restitution. A second offense of more than $5,000 carries the same felony penalties.
5. There are defenses to non-payment of child support
If you face a charge of non-payment of child support, the state must be able to show that your non-payment is willful. There are defenses that apply to the charges against you. You must make every effort to pay support. That means you must be able to show the court that you looked for a job, looked for a second job, sold personal items, tried to take out loans, and otherwise did everything that you could to pay support.
You may be able to defend against the charges by showing that you are too sick or disabled to earn an income. The court doesn’t excuse non-payment of child support lightly. Although there are defenses, it’s important to do everything that you can to meet your obligation so that you can show the court that you’ve done your best.
6. Child support and parenting time are not the same things
Even if a parent doesn’t pay child support, the parenting schedule must continue without interruption. A child has a right to parenting time with both parents just like they have the right to financial support from both parents. The parent who receives support may not deny parenting time because of non-payment of support. Instead, the recipient parent must take other steps to enforce the child support order.
7. The amount of support doesn’t change until you petition the court for a change
Even if you have good reasons for non-payment of child support, even successful defense of non-payment of support charges doesn’t change the child support order. The child support order continues from month to month until you ask the court to adjust the amount.
If you have a life change and the amount of support is no longer appropriate for your circumstances, it’s vital to petition the court right away rather than wait for arrears to stack up. Asking the court to change the support order can prevent the arrears from becoming worse.
8. A Las Vegas attorney for non-payment of child support can help you
Do you have questions about the non-payment of child support? Our Las Vegas child support lawyers can help. Allegations of non-payment of support are always serious. Contact our attorneys today for a confidential discussion of your case.