Child support can be a hot-button issue between separated or divorced parents. Often, parents argue over who should pay, how much they should pay and how the recipient parent should spend the money.And these arrangements only get uglier when a parent fails to pay what they owe.


When a parent does not pay child support, they are delinquent and can face enforcement actions, including:

  • Interest charges of 10 percent
  • Property liens
  • Suspension of a passport and driver’s license
  • Interception of lottery winnings and tax refunds
  • Loss of professional and recreational licenses
  • Possible contempt of court charges

These actions serve various purposes, from forcing a parent to pay to penalizing them until they do.

Generally, these measures are not appropriate for an isolated incident or sporadic late payments. And sometimes, getting back on track is as simple as parents talking through a specific situation.

However, when payments are routinely late, and the paying parent is unwilling or unable to comply with an order, these actions can be necessary.


Not all parents fail to pay support because they are facing financial struggles. Some parents mistakenly believe they are justified in withholding support if:

  • They disagree with how the other parent is spending it
  • The other parent is withholding a child in violation of a custody order
  • They do not agree with the original order

However, not paying child support for any reason can be grounds for enforcement actions.


Instead of refusing to pay or skipping payments, you can talk to an attorney about legal options like modifying court orders. You can also pursue modification if your financial circumstances have changed, making the original order no longer appropriate.

Child support is not supposed to be a punishment or a weapon. It is a program that ensures a child receives financial support from both parents, regardless of parental relationships. Thus, parents would be wise to remember that unpaid child support can adversely affect a child’s well-being and unfairly punish them.