When parents of a child end their relationship, child support is often ordered by the Court. This can be accomplished at no cost by contacting the child support office in the county where the child resides. The child support office will open a child support case. Their job is to ensure the financial security of the child. They do not represent either parent. It is wise to hire your own counsel to ensure that child support is calculated accurately.
Once child support is established, the child support office will issue wage assignments and manage the payments for a very minimal annual fee. Monitoring payments through the child support office relieves some of the stress of tracking payments between parties. The child support office will provide certified proof to the Court of the payments made through their office, which makes it very easy to prove whether child support has been paid.
When a parent fails to pay child support, the receiving parent can choose from one of two options to go after the paying parent to collect. The first option is to file a motion for contempt in the child support case. If the paying parent is found guilty of contempt, the Court could order the entire arrearage to be paid in full, award attorney’s fees to the receiving parent, and possibly order jail time.
The second option is to request that the child support office file a criminal non-support charge against the paying parent. A parent convicted of nonsupport is subject to a maximum of 12 months in jail and up to a $500 fine. The second time a person is convicted of nonsupport he or she must serve a mandatory 7 days in jail. The third time a person is convicted of nonsupport he or she must serve a mandatory 30 days in jail.
Despite the possibility of mandatory jail time, some parents still refuse or fail to pay support. If the parent obligated to pay support has gone 6 months without paying, or is behind more than $1,000, the County Attorney may file flagrant nonsupport charges, which is a Class D Felony punishable from 1 to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Felony charges carry the harshest penalties within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and a felony conviction can have a lasting detrimental effect upon your ability to earn a living. Even after a child is grown, all arrearage owed to the receiving parent must still be paid in full. Failure to do so can still result in criminal charges being filed.
Sometimes we have circumstances where a parent is paying support to the other parent, but the child is living with another person. While this situation may seem like the receiving parent is “cheating the system”, it is not a crime. The remedy available for the paying parent is to file a motion asking to terminate child support. If you find yourself in this circumstance, it is wise to seek out an attorney to consider changes in custody and/or support.