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Can a parent be jailed for a child support delinquency?

Gulfport parents know that the failure to pay child support can have consequences. A failure to pay can result in income withholding from the delinquent parent's paycheck as well as the suspension of driver's licenses and professional licenses held by the delinquent parent. Most people have also probably heard that the failure to pay child support can also result in jail time for the delinquent parent. This blog post will briefly discuss this issue.

It should be pointed out at the outset that jail time is not usually the preferred sanction for delinquent noncustodial parents. It is impossible for a parent to earn money if they are locked in jail. The purpose of the punishment of jail is to discourage parents from willfully failing to pay child support. By paying child support, a parent need not worry about going to jail for failure to pay.

Under Mississippi state law, a parent may be ordered to spend up to two years in jail if they willfully fail to pay child support. But state law protects destitute parents from being thrown in jail for failure to pay child support. If a parent lacks financial resources to make payments on their child support obligations, that parent cannot be sanctioned under the law.

If a parent finds that they have not made their required child support payments for any reason, it is a good idea to take action quickly to prevent or mitigate the potential consequences of the delinquency. Many possible remedies may be available. These remedies can include lowering payment amounts for future child support obligations. They can also include establishing a payment plan to take care of child support obligations in arrears.

Source: The Mississippi Bar, "Child Support: What Every Mother and Father Should Know," accessed on Oct. 28, 2017

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