People often see child support as a matter between two adults – the parents, whether they are divorced or were never married. In fact, it’s more complicated than that. Child support stems from a relationship between a parent and their child, and between the parent, the child and the state.
Mississippi law holds that all parents have a legal responsibility to provide for the care of their children. If they are unable to do so, they must rely on public aid. Thus, a parent’s failure to pay child support has a direct cost for the state government and taxpayers. Mississippi’s child support program oversees about 267,000 cases each year, so this can be a major concern for the state budget.
With this in mind, the state has a number of tools at its disposal to enforce child support orders if a parent is not making their required payments. However, Mississippi has struggled to find ways to manage this enforcement. Recently, the state has come under fire for its policy of jailing parents who fail to pay child support, and its disastrous effort to fully privatize its child support collections program.
What happens if the noncustodial parent cannot pay child support?
While the state’s child support collection policies are in a state of change, it’s still true that any parent who falls behind in their child support payments can find themselves in a lot of trouble. The loss of a job or other financial setback can make an old child support order unworkable. The paying parent can easily fall behind, leading to massive debt and legal jeopardy.
This is where a knowledgeable Mississippi lawyer with expertise in child support can really be valuable. The lawyer can guide parents toward a child support modification, so that they can meet their obligations without falling into further debt and legal jeopardy.
It’s important for parents to resolve these issues as quickly as possible because prolonging them can be painful for everyone involved.