How can I avoid jail time for not paying child support because of having extremely limited public assistance funds? 19 Answers as of October 02, 2012

I have been homeless for four years. I just got out of the shelter and moved into single room occupancy.

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Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
I don't believe you can.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/2/2012
Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
If you were criminally charged the charge in CA is for not paying when you had the ability. You need a private lawyer or the public defender.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/28/2012
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
The Constitution of the United States states that you cannot be incarcerated for being poor and having no money. You can be incarcerated if you have a wilfull failure to pay child support and you were capable of paying some. Consider requesting a court-appointed attorney to assist you.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 9/24/2012
Lawrence Lewis
Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
If it is documented that you have had no money, then the courts will probably not be sending you to jail.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 9/24/2012
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
You should have gone to Family Court for modification of the court's order based on changed circumstances before the arrears accrued and you were faced with a jail sentence. You should talk to a Legal Aid lawyer in Family Court and ask him how to best handle the matter and avoid a jail term. The best way is to get a job and start to pay child support or show why you are unable to work based on a disability or mental problems, medical problems, or the fact that your benefits are not sufficient to provide any child support.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/24/2012
    Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
    If enforcement action is taken, you will have to appear in court and advise the court of your situation. If there is some reason that you cannot work, you should bring documentation regarding that to court with you. To find you in contempt for failure to pay child support the court would have to find you had the ability to pay child support (this does not mean you have to have a job but must be able to work) and you declined to pay support. If you can show no ability to pay, it is unlikely you would find yourself in jail.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Try to get a job and bring proof to court of your attempts. That does not mean going to one or two places. If you can't work for medical reasons bring proof of that.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    By defending any criminal charges with the facts you just stated. If charged by the prosecutors, apply for the Pulbic Defender and listen to his advice.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    James M. Osak, P.C.
    James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
    You fathered the child/children. You're responsible for their welfare irregardless of your current condition. YES . . . the state could take action against you. You'll have to try to explain all this to the court though.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Be honest with the judge and let him know you have no income.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You can try setting up a payment plan, but if you cannot do so, you will likely get jail time.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    You may not get jail time ? they may offer you a deal. See if they will appoint a public defender to represent you. If not, then you are definitely not facing jail time.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    Not paying anything whatsoever on your child support obligation is probably going to be viewed as a contempt of court and you can be jailed for up to 180 days for that. You do have defenses, no employment in this economy is the main one.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Attorney at Law | Michael P. Vollandt
    I do not think any DA would file a 270PC charge based on your situation. If there is a child support order in place you should try to have if modified.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/22/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    The only thing that I can advise, is go talk to the Friend of Court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/22/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Provide your proof to the court.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 9/22/2012
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Get a job and start paying.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/22/2012
    Seth B. Cobin, Attorney at Law | Seth Benjamin Cobin
    Under the circumstances you described it shouldn't be too difficult to get a modification of child support. People are jailed for failure to pay child support when the failure to pay is willful. If you simply couldn't afford it and were homeless the judge or magistrate will generally not find you in contempt. You will, however, still be responsible for paying the arrears.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/22/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    The law assumes that you are capable of getting a minimum wage job and believes that if you fathered children, you should support them. However, judges also understand that homelessness is a problem and that jobs are limited. You may not be able to avoid going to jail for failure to pay for 4 years. During that time, did you move for a modification of your child support obligations because you were unemployed and homeless? That might make a difference. Good luck to you.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/22/2012
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