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Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support in NY?

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Child Support NY

For many custodial parents in divorced households on Long Island, NY, child support is a major, even essential, financial component. Courts in Nassau County and Suffolk County, NY take child support very seriously. If the court orders it to be paid, and the parent fails to do so, they can be held in contempt of court. One question some people wonder about, though, is whether you can go to jail for not paying child support under New York state laws.

At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we encourage you not to waste time if you are struggling to make child support payments to your ex for the care of your children. You have options. Our team of experienced child support attorneys can help you navigate the legal options you have for getting financial relief in these situations. Just reach out to us at 631-923-1910 for immediate help.

Men Held at Rikers Island for Non-payment of Child Support

Typically, Rikers Island is the type of location where people who have committed serious crimes are held. However, it was recently reported that 10 men were held at the prison facility recently on civil charges. The charge was failing to pay child support. Though there’s speculation on why this happened, the report from Gothamist found that these individuals spent as many as 23 hours a day in isolation for almost a month in November of 2023 for failing to pay child support.

To be clear, these men were not in solitary confinement but rather spaces that had shared day rooms that had phones and TVs within them. However, being locked up in New York for not paying child support is a real threat.

Could You Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support in Long Island, NY?

The Human Resources Administration, which is a part of the NYC Department of Social Services, shares that there are numerous steps the court can take to punish those who fail to make payment. This includes garnishing wages, seizing a tax refund, seizing lottery prizes, and property execution. They can also suspend a driver’s license, report the nonpayment to credit bureaus, and refer the individual to the Division of Taxation and Finance. You may even have your passport suspended or revoked.

What Can Long Island, NY Courts Do to Child Support Delinquents?

The court has the legal right to issue an arrest warrant if a noncustodial parent does not appear in court for a violation hearing for nonpayment of child support. It can also issue an arrest warrant in situations where the noncustodial parent falls seriously behind on their required support payments.

Most specifically, the court can require jail time of up to six months for willfully not paying child support. Willful nonpayment of past-due child support is a serious charge, and it is considered a federal offense. The court can request the District Attorney’s Office to seek out legal action and incarceration for those who have a substantial amount of accumulated nonpayment of child support. This typically is only done when other methods of nonpayment recovery do not work.

What to Do If You Cannot Make Child Support Payments

In situations where you cannot make child support payments, reach out to an experienced Long Island, NY divorce attorney for immediate help. If you are willfully not paying child support but have the means to do so, it is likely that the court will require you to make payment. Consider the following situations:

You lost your job and cannot pay your child support

Without income, or a significant drop in your income, it is of course a challenge to pay the expense of child support. If this happens to you, you need an experienced family law attorney to evaluate your case to determine if you are eligible to file a motion in court to get adjustments to your child support legal requirement. Remember, child support is a court order and it is a serious offense to willingly violate it.

Your ex’s financial situation has changed, and you do not want to pay child support

Child support is a court order to pay, and therefore, not doing so is a violation of that order. To avoid that, if a change in circumstances like this occurs, reach out to an experienced child support attorney for immediate help. They can petition the court for changes. That is much more likely to happen if you are in good standing with the courts. It is possible to reduce your child support payments on Long Island, New York.

Set Up a Free Consultation and Case Evaluation with Our Child Support Attorneys on Long Island, NY Now

Before you fall behind on child support or if your ex fails to make payments, reach out to our team of experienced Long Island, NY, child support attorneys. We will to go to work to protect your rights and help you get the child support you deserve or to get modifications to any agreements necessary.

It is possible to go to jail for nonpayment of child support. There are better ways to manage these difficult situations. Call Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form on this page for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.


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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.
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