To put it simply, you just can not avoid the financial obligation to your children. No matter how you feel about the other parent, you must be a responsible adult and pay your child support. If you’ve receive a notice that a bench warrant has been issued against you – there are a few things that you must know and do:
1. A Bench Warrant is a warrant issued by a judge and it can be done for several reasons. Every state in the country has laws dictating when they will use the warrant option, it can happen if you are held in contempt of court for failing to appear at a hearing and it can also occur when you have failed to pay your child support.
2. This is an active warrant that can and will be executed. In some states, a judge will sign a bench warrant for something as minor as an unpaid parking ticket. Most people feel “safe” with those types of warrants because they aren’t aggressively pursued. Do not get comfortable when a child support warrant has been issued. Failure to pay support warrants are handled by your county Sheriffs department, so they will act on it.
3. These aren’t issued “just because” or after one week of missed payments. In most every state, judge issued warrants are the option of last resort – so if you have one signed against you – it’s because you have established a pattern of non-payment. Do not expect a great deal of leniency. In many states, once a judges warrant is issued – your drivers license is automatically suspended as well.
4. County Sheriffs and the Office of Child Support Enforcement have the jurisdiction to execute the warrant anywhere in the state. They can arrest you at your home, your place of employment, during a routine traffic stop, and anywhere else they see fit. It is very difficult to flee from this type of warrant when you are in the same state. Leaving the state won’t do you much good either. While it can not be executed, it will remain active on your record. With your suspended drivers license and an active warrant, finding a new job and getting a new license will be difficult.
So what do you do now? Surrender yourself to the county’s sheriffs department so the matter can be resolved. Generally speaking, there is no jail time involved when you turn yourself in. You will appear before a judge who will tell you how much money needs to be paid towards your “bail”, or to lift the warrant. This money is typically a percentage of what you owe. This money usually needs to be paid before you can be released.
If you are facing true financial hardship and are genuinely unable to come up with a lump sum of money, a judge has the authority to order a payment plan and stay the warrant.