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What happens if I don’t pay child support?

Every parent has a responsibility to financially support his or her child. If this responsibility comes in the form of a child support order from the courts, you must comply with it.

If you are late or miss court-ordered child support payments, you could face a wide range of consequences.

Financial penalties

Not paying child support can have monetary penalties. Provincial laws allow for the charging of interest and fees on late or missing support payments. The interest is applied daily at a rate of 3.95 percent. Default fees can be administered once per year and are equal to a month of maintenance, with a limit of $400. Enforcement efforts can also lead to reporting to a credit reporting agency.

Further, federal laws allow for interception of income tax refunds, employment insurance benefits and pension payments.

Legal consequences

Depending on the details of a specific case, a delinquent payor can face legal problems, as well. This includes:

  • Denial of passport or federal license
  • Withholding or restriction of a driver’s license
  • Requirement to appear in court
  • Possible incarceration

Other ramifications

In addition to the financial and legal consequences of not paying child support, you could create serious personal problems for yourself and your loved ones. For instance, you could cause more conflict between you and the other parent. You could also face embarrassment when your employer or others discover arrearage.

Further, your relationship with your child could suffer. If he or she is aware of the delinquency, he or she may distrust you or feel that you are not fulfilling your duties as a parent.

Alternatives to non-payment

Often, people fail to comply with child support orders for one of two reasons. Either they are experiencing financial hardships, or they are upset at the other parent for not complying with a custody agreement.

In either of these cases, the answer is not to stop paying child support. Instead, payors should consider applying for a new maintenance order. Doing this allows parents or the courts to come to new agreements for child support in light of new circumstances, like parenting time or financial resources.

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