The process to becoming a United States citizen can be long and hard. While there are many things that can help you get to the finish line, there are just as many things that may hurt your chances of becoming a citizen. One of those things is falling behind on child support payments. Here's more information about this issue.
Failure to Pay May Result in Denial
In the United States, parents are legally obligated to provide financial support to their children, regardless of whether they're married to the child's other parent or not. As a non-citizen applying for citizenship, you must show you are capable and willing to follow this country's laws. Failure to make require child support payments as ordered by a judge may be seen by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as an inability to be a law-abiding citizen, and they may deny your application as a result.
However, it's important to note that being in arrears doesn't mean your application will automatically be denied. If you can provide a valid reason for not paying (e.g. you were unemployed for a period of time), then the USCIS agent may overlook the past due amount and approve your application. On the other hand, if you don't pay because you simply didn't want to, your application will be denied.
Failure to Pay May Result in Criminal Charges
You can go to jail for not paying child support. Child support is issued via a court order, which bounds the people involved to obey the missive. The custodial parent can have the court hold you in contempt if you fail to pay the support order as agreed, which means a warrant for you arrest will be issued and you'll be put in jail.
Judges generally don't like putting non-custodial parents in jail because that makes it harder for them to pay what they owe. However, if it appears you are willfully disobeying the order or don't have a valid reason for not paying, you will be jailed.
This is relevant to your application for naturalization because a criminal record can stop you from getting approved. Applicants must demonstrate they are people of good moral character, and the USCIS maintains a list of things that go against this requirement and may result in denial. One of those things is being convicted of a crime.
Whether being thrown in jail for not paying child support works against you depends on the circumstances of the case and how long ago the incident occurred. For instance, if you were sentenced to 5 years or more in jail, your application may be denied.
For more information about how child support affects your immigration status or help with getting a support order modified, contact an attorney like Hackworth Law.