What Will Happen When Not Paying Child Support in Tennessee?

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In the state of Tennessee, individuals who owe child support make payments in one of two ways. Either the individual makes payments directly to the party to whom the money is owed, or he pays the state, who routes these payments to the rightful recipient. A failure to make payments on time can result in a number of negative consequences.

Filing A Support Order

Only a person who has had a support order issued against him is legally obligated to pay child support. To establish a support order, a child's caretaker must file a petition with a Tennessee court. After hearing the case, the court may order the father or mother to pay a set amount each month. If the person served with the petition fails to pay the amount owed, the state will take various enforcement measures.

Wage Garnishment

One of the first measures that the state takes is wage garnishment, also known as income reassignment. If the caretaker is receiving income but chooses not to pay, the state will contact his employer and demand that a certain amount of his paycheck be diverted each month and routed to the state. In addition, if the person is receiving an income tax refund, this tax refund may also be diverted by the state government.

Jail

When a person is ordered by a court to pay child support, this order has the legal backing accorded any order of the court. Therefore, a failure to comply can result in a declaration by the judge that the caretaker is in contempt of court. When an individual is found in contempt of court, he may be required to pay additional fines or even be placed in jail for a period of time.

Additional Penalties

In addition to jail time and fees, an individual may face additional enforcement actions by the state government. For example, liens may be placed against property; he may have individual state-issued licenses, such as hunting and professional licenses, revoked; he may be denied a passport; his bank accounts may be seized; and his debt may be reported to credit reporting agencies, resulting in a decline in his credit score.

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