What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support

Once a judge approves and signs a child support order, you are required to make payments until your children reach the age of majority. In most states, this is usually somewhere between the ages of 18 and 20. In Nevada, the age of majority is 18. Until then, it is your responsibility to meet your child support obligations each and every month.

But, what happens if you lose your job, your business takes a hit, or another event causes a loss of income or earning capacity?

Unfortunately, there are some serious consequences for parents who are unable or unwilling to pay child support.

How are consequences determined If You Don’t Pay Child Support?

State and federal laws dictate what consequences arise when child support orders are not paid. Many parents who fall behind in child support fear that they will be found in contempt of court and face jail time.

Unless you are able to pay, but refuse to do so, this is an unlikely scenario. If you are willing to pay, but cannot do so because of a financial hardship, there are other, more likely consequences that will happen first.

What to Expect If You Fall Behind On Child Support Payments

There are serious consequences if you don’t pay child support and fall behind on your payments. If a state agency is involved, they will automatically begin to take steps on behalf of the custodial parent in order to begin collection efforts on any back child support owed and make sure future payments are made in a timely manner.

Credit Reporting

Once a child support order is issued, these payments can begin to show up on credit reports. If you fall behind, it may be reflected as delinquent payments causing a drop in credit rating and long-lasting derogatory marks that take years to age off.

Tax Refund Offset

The IRS can intercept any refund you are entitled to. When a refund is intercepted, or offset as it is called, you will receive an offset letter detailing why your refund was intercepted and where the money was applied.


State agencies have the authority to file a lien on any real property you own. If you sell any real estate, the amount of past due child support owed can be taken directly from its sale.

Bank Accounts

Many banking institutions report your assets, including money held in checking and savings, to federal and state agencies. This money can be taken and applied to your past due child support balance.

Suspended Licenses

The State Licensing Match System can determine if you hold a business, professional and/or driver’s license and suspend it. For business owners and professionals who require a license to work, like teachers, contractors, and hairdressers, this can be an especially difficult consequence as it places restrictions on earning capacity.

Passport Restrictions

Owe more than $2,500 in child support and the U.S. State Department will not issue or renew your passport until arrangements are made to bring you current. Passport restrictions can negatively impact your work life if you need to be available for international travel.

Other Possible Consequences For Not Paying Child Support

Unemployment compensation, Workers’ Compensation payouts, disability benefits and even lottery winnings can be taken.

Interest may be added to past due child support. California, for example, applies ten percent yearly interest to outstanding child support. You will be responsible for making any future child support payments along with any interest that has accrued.

Be Proactive If You Cannot Pay Child Support

Don’t wait for collection efforts to happen before you take action. If you lose your job or are facing any kind of financial hardship, you need to consult with a child support attorney and petition the court immediately to have your child support order modified. Until then, you are still responsible for making the original monthly payment amounts and will face consequences if you cannot pay. Contact Pintar Albiston LLP for your legal questions regarding child support.