Contributed by Matt Campbell.
The Landscape of Child Support and Potential Ramifications
In Arkansas, the courts strongly enforce child support by the non-custodial parent. When the amount of reasonable child support is established by a judge, the judge issues a court order. If a parent falls behind in paying child support, a judge may hold them in “contempt” due to them disobeying the court order. Generally, when a parent is found in contempt, the court will order the parent to pay all past-due child support. However, a judge may order the parent to pay monetary fines, but the inability to pay child support is unlikely to impose jail time. A court is more inclined to issue jail time when a parent refuses to pay child support.
Penalties for Nonpayment of Child Support
In Arkansas, parents that fall three months or more behind in child support payments can have their driver’s licenses and license plates suspended by the Department of Finance and Administration. Additionally, when parents owe $2500 or more in overdue support, they may have their passports revoked or denied.
A non-payer could face misdemeanor charges and even felony charges, but these are for those who are extremely behind on child support or purposefully attempt to evade paying it. If parents fall $10,000 or more behind on child support and are behind by more than 12 months, one can be arrested for a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine. If a delinquent parent tries to leave the state of Arkansas to avoid paying child support, the crime becomes a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Take the Initiative
Avoid any severe consequences when falling behind on payments by contacting the OCSE (Office of Child Support Enforcement) and giving full disclosure of your financial situation. In more severe situations, reach out to an attorney that is focused on family law in Arkansas. Attorneys at Miller, Butler, Schneider, Pawlik & Rozzell are well trained in the family law realm and can help advocate for you.