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I haven't paid child support: what's the worst that could happen?

Kids are expensive; there is no doubt about that. Whether they are in diapers, trying out for sports or studying for college, kids cost money at any age. In order to provide for children and make sure they have what they need to be safe, happy and healthy, parents need to pay. As difficult as this can be for any two parents to do, it can be especially difficult when parents are divorced and raising a child separately.

In these situations, both parents are still expected to support a child financially, which is why a noncustodial parent will be ordered to make child support payments. If you are the person ordered to pay and you do not comply with this order, you could end up paying for much more than your regular contributions.

In Tennessee, most parents will have their child support obligations automatically withheld from their paychecks. However, if you lose your job or somehow put a stop to wage withholdings and do not keep up with your child support payments, you can face a whole host of penalties.

According to Tennessee child support laws, orders for support can be enforced by:

  • Sequestering real estate profits
  • Withholding or suspending driver's license
  • Withholding or suspending professional licenses
  • Rerouting unemployment benefits to satisfy child support orders
  • Ordering delinquent parent to pay legal fees of the other parent
  • Intercepting tax refunds

There can also be more severe penalties, including jail time if a parent continues to ignore court orders to pay child support.

It must be noted that failure to pay support is not just a failure to comply with court orders; it can also be considered an indication that you are as involved in providing for your child as you should be. This can be devastating for a child to learn and for another parent to come to terms with. It can ultimately jeopardize the relationship a delinquent parent has (or loses) with their child.

If you are concerned about unpaid child support, it can be critical that you address this matter sooner, rather than later, with an attorney so that you can hopefully keep it from getting worse. With legal guidance, you can seek a review of your support orders and potentially have them modified.