Home > Managing Debt > What Happens If You Stop Paying Child Support?

Comments 1 Comment

Money issues are often the cause of a divorce, but for some people, financial problems get worse after they split. Take child support for example: One parent may rely on it to make ends meet, while the other has to come up with the money, and if he or she fails to do so, that parent may face some serious legal and financial consequences.

The Price of Being a Deadbeat

Most child support cases are dealt with on the state level, but failing to make court-ordered child support payments could land you in trouble with the federal government if nonpayment goes on long enough or exceeds a certain amount. It also becomes a federal issue if a parent tries to get out of payments by leaving the state or country. (In fact, the Office of the Inspector General has a “most wanted” list of deadbeats, most of whom seem to have fled the country and owe tens of thousands — some even hundreds of thousands — of dollars.)

Many states allow law enforcement officers to imprison noncustodial parents who fail to pay child support, as well as impose fines for delinquent payments. Restitution and interest may well exceed the amount originally owed, which can lead to a mountain of child support debt.

How Child Support Affects Your Credit

Going to jail certainly would be unpleasant, but skipping out on child support can have a long-lasting financial impact as well. The parent with custody of the children can sue for what he or she is owed, and if the judge rules in that parent’s favor, the noncustodial parent will end up with a judgment on his or her credit report.

Judgments are seriously derogatory and can damage your credit for a very long time. It depends on what state you live in and whether you pay or settle the judgment, but you’ll certainly see your credit score drop once a judgment appears on your credit report. If you find a judgment on your credit report (in the public records section), here’s what you can do to resolve it.

If you’re dealing with a negative tradeline like a judgment, you’ll definitely want to keep up with your credit score and work to improve it in any way you can, because poor credit can be very costly and make it difficult for you to access some financial services. You can easily check your credit reports for free through AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can review your credit data for free with monthly updates through Credit.com.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Gaijin Nomad

    Don’t pay child support. Go to jail. The law can do that. Give them some minimum wage job in jail and let the courts collect the wages. Quitting the job is not an option.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team