No Job + Child Support = Jail?
Question from a non custodial parent:
I haven’t been able to get a job for the past six months. I’ve put in applications everywhere, had a few interviews but so far absolutely no luck. I’m living with friends and family at the moment after losing my apartment, and they’re being gracious enough to help me keep my car. I’ve been trying to get a job at every place I could, but still absolutely no luck in finding one. I owe child support; will they put me in jail?
First, there are a lot of people in your position right now. Frankly, if they were to imprison everyone who has fallen behind it would probably double our prison population.
You need to be able to show that you’re looking for a job. In most states, applying at two places per day is sufficient proof. Every time you hand in an application you need to note the name of the place, location, date, time, and who you spoke with. Make sure you hand it to the manager and introduce yourself. If you get an interview, make sure you keep records on this as well. This shows that you are working hard to find a job.
Keep copies of all your bills and income. If you get any income, anything, send part of it to the child support office. Even if it’s just $10, send it. It shows you intend to make good on your obligations.
Once you have your documents in hand, make copies of them and keep them in a folder. Take that folder with you when you approach the child support office. Yes, you will have to talk to them sooner or later, and it’s going to turn out a lot better if you initiate it. Try to make contact with a child support worker before you make contact with an investigator or an attorney. Go in with your folder, show the original documents and offer to leave a copy. Tell them about your situation and ask what you can do to start to make things right.
It’s all about demonstrating intent. While there are some unsympathetic judges out there, the majority of them are going to keep giving you chances as long as you demonstrate a full-hearted effort. The custodial parent may not be happy with the lack of support but by covering your bases and being upfront, you will have a better chance in the court system.