Child support is a common arrangement between unmarried parents who share kids. Unfortunately, these payments can become very expensive, and it is quite easy for the payer to miss payments. People who stop paying child support might end up in jail.
If you fall behind on child support in New Jersey, you can end up in jail. Although failure to pay child support is not itself a criminal offense, there might be criminal implications. The situation might be made more complicated if support payments are conditional to your probation sentence. An attorney can help you explain your situation and hopefully avoid jail time.
If you have missed some child support payments, our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help you fix the situation and stay out of jail. Call our dedicated team at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.
Penalties and Jail Time for Failing to Pay Child Support in New Jersey
Failing to pay child support in New Jersey is not itself a criminal offense. However, failing pay might be a violation of a court order and may lead to your arrest and incarceration. Not only that, but intentional failures to pay might be charged as contempt, and you may be sentenced to jail time if convicted.
A court may issue a bench warrant for your arrest if you fail to comply with the support order. A bench warrant is issued by a judge and allows the police to arrest you the next time they encounter you. In many cases, this means being arrested during a routine traffic stop. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help you clear the bench warrant and avoid jail time.
If you were convicted of a separate criminal offense and sentenced to probation, the court can make compliance with child support orders a condition of your probation. If you fail to pay child support, you might be in violation of your probation, and you might be arrested and sent to jail.
If you do run into criminal trouble involving child support, our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you explain your situation to the court. Most people do not fall behind on payments on purpose. Changes in financial situations are often the cause of missed payments, and you might need to work out a modified support order with the court.
Is Failing to Pay Child Support a Crime in New Jersey?
Not paying your child support is not a criminal offense, but that does not mean there are no criminal implications. You may still face criminal penalties for failing to make support payments if certain conditions are present. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help you clear the matter with the court and hopefully avoid jail time.
Child support is outlined in a court order. The order dictates who pays the child support and how much the payments are worth. A court order is legally binding, and failure to abide by a court order may be met with penalties. This means that failing to pay child support violates a court order, and you can be charged with contempt. If convicted, you might be sentenced to up to 18 months of jail time.
When a court believes you have violated an order, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Typically, a bench warrant does not lead to your immediate arrest, but you will instead be arrested upon your next interaction with law enforcement. Commonly, this is during an ordinary traffic stop. When the police discover you have a bench warrant issued for your arrest, they can take you to jail and hold you until you can be brought to court.
Whether you are held in contempt or arrested on a bench warrant, our Ocean City criminal defense attorneys can help you. If you suspect you have a bench warrant, we can help you clear it by contacting the court and scheduling a new hearing regarding child support.
What If I Fail to Pay Child Support While on Probation in New Jersey?
The order requiring child support payments is not a criminal matter. However, the order can become tied to other criminal matters pending against you. When a person who is already bound by a child support order is convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to probation, the payment of child support can be made a condition of probation.
When a defendant is sentenced to probation, any violation of the terms imposed as part of their probation can lead to them being arrested and brought back to court. The court might decide to send you to jail or prison to finish out the remainder of your sentence. Failing to pay child support may very well land you in jail.
Our Ocean City criminal defense attorneys can help you argue against jail time for a probation violation. In some cases where the violation was unintentional, probation officers and courts are willing to give you a second chance before considering jail time.
Defenses to Charges for Failure to Pay Child Support in New Jersey
People fall behind on child support payments quite often, and it is often due to non-criminal circumstances. Perhaps you have found yourself between jobs, and making your support payments has become very difficult. Our Wildwood criminal defense attorneys can help you show a court that you did not intentionally disregard the court order for child support.
If there is no money to make a payment with, then there is simply no way to pay child support. We can help you explain to the court that your financial circumstances have changed, and you need a modification to the support order to stay compliant. When a court realizes your non-compliance was not intentional, they might choose to forego incarceration.
In other cases, child support is no longer needed. If the child in question has come of age or the order was terminated for other reasons, a bench warrant or contempt charges might have been made by mistake. We can help you correct this error and avoid jail time.
Call Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney for Assistance
Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can provide guidance and advice if you missed child support payments and are worried about what happens next. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free evaluation of your case.