Sentencing has been postponed for a noncustodial parent of four Rhode Island children who owes more than $300,000 in child support. This parent pled guilty back in September to a felony charge of willful failure to pay child support. Originally, the parent was scheduled for sentencing on December 19, but the federal judge has rescheduled for January 4, 2013.
The custodial parent of the four children says that the noncustodial parent has not paid child support since August and has been informed by a probation office that the noncustodial parent is an employee at a fruit market.
While commentators, who are appalled by the amount of child support owed, are comparing the noncustodial parent's failure to pay child support to child abuse; it is not likely that the noncustodial parent will face any legal charges for child abuse. However, the noncustodial parent is facing other penalties for failure to meet child support obligations.
When a parent fails to pay child support owed, that parent may have their wages withheld or their tax refunds intercepted. Other common penalties include suspension of a driver's license, suspension of a professional license or seizure of property. In more egregious cases, like this one, jail time might be imposed.
If a parent owes more than $2,500 in child support, the U.S. Department of State can even deny issuance of a passport. Since the main objective of penalties for failure to pay child support is to provide support for the children, jail time is usually reserved as a last resort. The court recognizes that if a parent is in jail, they are not earning money and cannot provide support for the child.
Source: Providence Journal, "Sentencing postponed for father who owes $300,000 in child support," Tracy Breton, Dec. 5, 2012