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In cases where parents are separated or divorced, matters related to child support can be complicated. On the one hand, some parents don’t receive the child support they deserve and depend on from a former partner or spouse. At the same time, child support payees may believe that their child support obligations are too high or may struggle to make monthly payments after losing a job.

Regardless of which side of the child support debate an individual is on, it is important that parents who are dealing with these stressful matters to take action as soon as possible and understand how child support laws could affect the outcome of their situation.

The United States Department of Justice’s website outlines some of the serious consequences individuals who fail to pay child support may face. For example, individuals who are delinquent in paying child support payment for 12 or more months or who are $5,000 or more behind in payments could face fines and spend up to six months behind bars. Those convicted of failing to make child support payments over a two-year period or in amounts totaling more than $10,000 could be convicted to spend up to two years in prison.

According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, there are a number of ways to help ensure that people fulfill their child support obligations, such as identifying and contacting delinquent parents, establishing paternity and enforcing fair child support orders. Other strategies listed on the OCSE’s website include addressing any payment barriers, promoting responsible parenting and reducing violence within the family. When it comes to child support, it is important for parents to understand their responsibilities and rights while working towards a positive outcome for their child.