When a Washington judge issues a child support order, it is expected that the paying spouse will make full payments on time, every time. If a paying spouse finds they are no longer able to afford the payments, they can petition the court for a modification. If the paying spouse simply stops making the payments, however, they can get into serious trouble. This post will provide a short summary of the child support enforcement mechanism in Washington.
If a paying spouse fails to make payments and does not take action to modify the payments, they could be subject to various sanctions. First of all, the court may find the non-payer to be in contempt of court. When a party is found in contempt of court, they can be fined by the court. They can also be sent to jail by the judge for being in contempt.
Non-paying parents may also find that the sanctions go beyond the traditional contempt penalties of fines or jail time. Non-paying parents in Washington may find that their driver's license has been suspended for failure to pay child support. They may also find that any professional license they hold has also been suspended. If the non-payment continues for an extended period of time, the non-paying parent may ultimately be charged with a criminal offense.
Whether the child support obligation arises from a divorce or the breakup of an unmarried couple, it is important for a parent to promptly seek a modification if they are unable to afford the payments. This is so that parents can protect their own interests while looking out for the best interests of the children.