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Parents who don't pay child support face significant penalties

Over the last couple of weeks we have discussed the benefits of child support and how pursuing such support can be beneficial to custodial parents. While these issues are certainly important, so is the problem of unpaid child support. Unpaid support can leave a child and his or her custodial parent on challenging financial footing. It can also pose significant legal ramifications for the parent who has failed to pay.

The penalties for intentionally failing to pay child support can be harsh. Under Louisiana law, a first offense can lead to a fine of $500, up to six months in prison, or both. A second conviction can result in a $2,500 fine and/or two years in prison. Subsequent convictions carry the same penalties as a second conviction. It is also important to note that a court can also order restitution in an amount equal to any child support arrearages.

So what does this mean for Louisianans who are struggling to pay their child support obligations? It means that they need to take the steps necessary to secure a child support modification, if one is warranted. A modification may be obtained if there are significant life changes that affect an individual's ability to satisfy his or her obligation. Losing a job or being diagnosed with a serious medical condition are examples of situations when modification may be deemed appropriate.

Many individuals who owe child support are afraid to confront the matter when they find themselves unable to pay. This can result in unwanted, and severe consequences. Those who need advice about their child support situation may want to think about talking with a family law attorney.

Source: Louisiana State Legislature, "Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:75," accessed on May 27, 2016

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