When a court determines that a party is entitled to receive financial support from their spouse as alimony or child support, it has a significant interest in ensuring that the party who owes support payments complies with their court-ordered support obligations.
The consequences for failing to pay child support—despite having the ability to do so—can range from garnishing income, suspending state-issued licenses, and imposing punitive sanctions for contempt of court. A party can enforce a support order by seeking such remedies in court.
If a spouse failed to pay alimony or child support, the party whose livelihood depends on receiving such support can request the court to withhold the noncompliant party’s income. When the missed support payments amount to at least fourteen days of missed support, a party may be entitled to relief through enforcement via income withholding orders.
An income withholding order can be issued against all sources of a person’s income. A court will then allow the New Jersey Family Support Payment Center to immediately withhold income from the noncompliant party’s paychecks for use in satisfying outstanding support obligations.
Another method of compelling a person to make support payments per the court’s orders involves the suspension or revocation of their occupational, recreational, or professional licenses.
Licenses subject to suspension due to missed support payments include:
- Driver’s licenses
- Licenses to practice law
- Medical licenses
- Hunting or fishing licenses
- Business licenses
Before the court can issue an order suspending a party’s licenses for nonpayment of child support, the party seeking enforcement must prove one of the following:
- Missed payments equaling or exceeding six months of child support
- Failure to provide health care within six months after orders a party to do so
- Issuance of an arrest bond for failure to pay child support
- Failure to attend a paternity or child support enforcement proceeding
Contempt of Court
A party who fails to honor their child support obligations can even face criminal penalties, including hefty fines and even jail time. This is because the noncomplying party failed to honor their duties under a valid court order.
In such cases, the court can hold the noncomplying in contempt of court. A court’s power to hold a party in contempt stems from the need to ensure that the litigants respect the court’s legal authority.
A court can impose a contempt sanction for the purpose of coercing a party into compliance. In such cases, the contemnor-party is incarcerated until they agree to repay their support obligations. As a result, the jail time of a person subject to contempt of court can be as short as one day or as long as several weeks, depending on when they decide to honor their court-ordered support obligations.
New Jersey law recognizes several different remedies that a person can take advantage of when trying to enforce a valid support order.
Among the orders courts may grant to enforce support orders include:
- Entering judgment for a fixed debt upon which interest can accrue
- Economic sanctions
- Mandatory participation in a community service program
- An arrest warrant for additional noncompliance
Consult Lane & Lane, LLC for Legal Representation
A person’s court-ordered support obligations must be taken seriously. If you have questions about your rights and duties concerning spousal or child support payments, you should retain the services of a professional attorney from Lane & Lane, LLC.