Parents who are in arrears on child support payments may face one of the more extreme collection methods in the court system. The method is called a child support warrant. Because courts treat child support as a priority over other debts, criminal sanctions can be used.
A child support obligation is a court order, and failing to pay child support is a violation of that order. If a person is well behind in payments, a warrant may be issued for the obligor to appear before the court to show cause why he or she should not be held in contempt for failing to comply with the court order, i.e. failing to pay support.
If held in contempt, the court has a number of options available, including jail time. Other options include appearing before the court regularly. The obligor will normally be required to produce pay stubs to the court or demonstrate that he or she is looking for employment.
Another situation where a warrant may be issued is if the district attorney files criminal charges against the obligor. This is a separate proceeding from the domestic case and is a criminal matter. If the defendant is found guilty, a prison sentence may be ordered.
In any case, a warrant for child support is a serious matter and should not be ignored. Courts treat child support as a high priority and can be aggressive in enforcing orders. Parents receiving a warrant may wish to contact an attorney experienced in child support matters and criminal enforcement of these types of orders. An attorney may be able to resolve the matter without the court resorting to extreme measures. A payment schedule might be constructed to allow the obligor to get back on track in resolving the debt.