When it comes to child support payments, the best advice is to keep up-to-date on your payments and don’t fall into what is called “arrearages,” or in otherwords, behind on payments.
If you do fall behind, the Child Support Enforcement agency in Louisiana has several ways to try to get parents to pay up on past-due accounts.
What can happen if you fall behind?
- Income assignment, which means that your wages will be docked and directed toward the state. If this happens, you won’t see the money before it goes to the state, and you employer will be notified about your arrearages (wage garnishment).
- Your state and federal income tax returns, as well as lottery winnings, could be turned over to the state and applied to your overdue child support (garnished).
- The state could suspend your driver’s license, hunting and fishing licenses, and professional and occupational licenses.
- The state could cancel your motor vehicle registration.
- Your case could be referred to U.S. Department of State and have your rights to a passport taken away.
- You could be forced to go to court and tell a judge why you are not up to date on payments. If the judge determines that you are at fault, he could hold you in contempt. That could mean fines or even jail time.
- You could have your custody rights reduced or taken away.
Aside from the above, you may have your name and other identifying information, along with the amount of child support you have fallen behind by, posted online by the Department of Children and Family Service for anyone to see. It could affect your ability to obtain or maintain a job if an employer sees that information or could be embarrassing at a minimum.
What do you do if you are having financial problems?
In some cases, if your financial situation has changed for the worse, there are things you can do to try to modify/reduce your child support payments:
- You can ask the other parent to agree on a reduction in your child support payments.
- If you and the other parent can come to a new agreement, then you submit the agreement in writing to the court that implemented your child support order. The court must agree to the updated amount that you and the other parent approved.
- If you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement, you can ask the court to intervene directly. If the judge gives the OK on your motion, the judge will issue a new ruling on how much child support you have to pay moving forward.
What steps do you need to take to lower child support payments?
There are a few things you should do when trying to lower your child support payments.
Before you file court papers, you’ll need to gather the following evidence:
- recent pay stubs and any other documentation showing a change in income.
- documentation that your financial obligations have changed, for example, you had another child.
- Documentation of physical disability or other conditions from your doctor.
You can also try to argue before the court that you have been paying above and beyond what the child support order outlines. For example, if you paid your child’s medical insurance premiums or school tuition, that might count as paying substantially more than what the court requires you to pay.
In Need of a Baton Rouge Family Law Attorney?
Danny Russell is a divorce and family law attorney in the Baton Rouge area who has experience in dealing with a wide range of family law matters, such as divorce, child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, and community property partitions. He knows divorce and family law in Louisiana and how courts usually side on family law matters. He will carefully assess those things most important to you, explain how the law applies to your circumstances, and help you make decisions that affect your relationships and financial stability.
If you are in need of a Baton Rouge family law attorney, contact the Russell Law Firm.
****Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.