All situations have two sides, including the issue of unpaid child support, as some Missouri parents learn when faced with this situation. Although it is common to associate unpaid support with fathers, hence the stereotype of the deadbeat dad, the reality is that both mothers and fathers find themselves in situations where they fall behind on their payments, sometimes due to situations out of their control.
When it relates to family law, however, it is important to understand the consequences for parents who fall behind in their payments, the options available to these parents and the options available to the custodial parent awaiting child support. For parents who have fallen behind in payments, the consequences include having their pay garnished, withholding their federal or state tax refund, having their unemployment payments intercepted or even facing jail time. When a parent falls behind because they cannot pay because of job loss or similar situations, they can ask for the payments amount to be reevaluated. In some states, parents who have fallen so behind that they cannot ever repay the entire amount might also be eligible for waivers of late support fees when they begin making payments.
If a parent is awaiting support payments that have stopped coming, they should get in contact with their Child Support Enforcement Office to file a report about the missing payments. Even though these parents might be tempted to withhold visitation from the non-paying parent, they should not, as the courts treat support and custody as separate issues and the decision to do this can cause the custodial parent problems in the court.
Parents who need to negotiate child support or who need to report a non-paying parent might also find additional support by consulting with a family law lawyer who may be able to help them understand the laws and options regarding child support.