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Appeals court affirms conviction for failure to pay child support

Child support is a serious obligation in Minnesota. A parent who fails to pay court-ordered child support can face harsh consequences, including wage garnishment; fines and jail time for contempt of court; driver's license suspension; suspension of hunting and fishing licenses; and suspension of occupational licenses. In certain circumstances, the state or federal government can file criminal charges. Depending on the circumstances, these charges can be misdemeanors or felonies.

One man in St. Peter has learned the hard way that the state will come down hard on parents who refuse to pay child support. The man was convicted of felony non-payment of child support in 2012. He was accused of failing to pay just over $1,700 per month after he moved to Minnesota from Colorado. He was already delinquent on his child support payments when he moved. After his conviction, he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. He was also placed on probation for five years; the conditions of probation included 180 days in jail and monthly payments of $200 toward his past due child support.

The man appealed his conviction, but the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed his appeal because he had become a fugitive and did not turn himself in when ordered. He filed a subsequent appeal, but the Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

A parent who is unable to make child support payments can avoid penalties like this. If the inability to pay is due to a substantial change in financial circumstances, the parent can petition the family court for a child support modification. It is best to do this, however, before payments become delinquent.

Source: Le Center Leader, "Appellate court affirms Le Sueur County conviction in child support case," Suzanne Rook, Jan. 26, 2017

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