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Can the court jail my ex for failing to pay child support?

Imagine taking on the responsibility of raising your child primarily on your own. Yes, your ex-spouse has some visitation time, but for the most part, you're the person there for your child at all times.

Now, imagine that your ex doesn't want to pay child support. You may already be struggling financially, but even if you aren't, that's money your child is owed. The money is supposed to be there to help your child live as if he or she is in a two-parent family and to give him or her all the best opportunities.

If your ex won't pay, you may need to go to court and file a contempt action. This is an action with which you ask a judge to hold your ex-spouse in contempt. If you can show that your ex is willfully disobeying the court order, the judge has the right to place him or her in jail until he or she has completed a plan to get out of contempt. For example, if your ex-spouse has not paid child support as ordered, the judge could order your ex to jail but allow him or her to avoid jail by paying what is owed on time each month and by bringing those payments current.

Your ex-spouse will have an attorney who represents him or her, since jail is a potential penalty. It's a good idea to have an attorney represent you as well, so you can bring your case forward with strong evidence of why you need the court to place the other parent in contempt.

Source: State of Nebraska Judicial Branch, "Enforcement of Child Support Orders," accessed June 21, 2017

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