Family Law Blog

Can You Face Jail Time For Unpaid Spousal and Child Support?

Friday, March 22, 2019

stack of money sitting under gavel on table

Let's face it, you may be okay financially supporting your children, but no one really wants to give their hard-earned money to an ex-spouse after they divorced. Sometimes, it may feel like even though you only pay child support, that your ex-spouse is using that for their own fun money. However, if the courts have ordered you to pay a certain amount for a certain amount of time, you have to do it or you could find yourself behind bars.

If you simply decide to stop paying spousal or child support that was awarded to your ex-spouse by your divorce court, their best option is to take you back to court. You will be served with a contempt of court notice that demands you appear in court and state why you haven't paid. If you fail to appear at this hearing, they will place a warrant out for your arrest.

However, once you get into that courtroom, do realize there is a big difference between "won't pay" and "can't pay" your support payments. If you demonstrate that it has been causing you financial hardship to make these payments, you likely won't go to jail and your payments will be amended. However, if you are maliciously withholding payments, depending on the amount owed, you may face jail time for it.

The small amount of good news is that you are not a hardened criminal. Awhile back in 2012 there was a case against NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman for non-payment of child and spousal support. He owed around $850,000 to his ex-wife but was only facing a punishment of 20 days in jail for not paying it. This is not to say that you won't face more time, or 20 days in jail is a small amount to pay for not paying support, but rather it is that you won't face years in jail for non-payment as this isn't a particularly heinous crime.

If you have perhaps neglected support payments or a spouse isn't paying you what was owed, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra help you.