One of the reasons a non-custodial parent may not be able to make child support payments is because their income level has decreased substantially. Rather than avoid their obligations, it is possible to apply for a child support modification with the court to ensure one is not penalized for their behavior.
Since the child support order was made based on the information available at the time that the divorce was finalized, it is possible for circumstances to change and new information may be introduced to the court. In New York, either parent can petition the family court to modify the child support order if there is a substantial change in circumstances or needs of the child. If the child support order was established before 2010, then income changes due to a loss of job, going on disability or loss of overtime, could all qualify for a modification of child support.
For orders established after 2010, additional reasons are also recognized. First, a modification can be requested if three years have passed since the order was adjusted, modified or entered into. Second, if any parent's income has changed by 15 percent involuntarily, either up or down, it might be possible to ask for a modification of child support. If a parent has been incarcerated for reasons other than failure to make child support payments, they may ask for a modification. Additionally, child support generally is downgraded when a child reaches the age of 21.
Rather than face the consequences and potentially end up incarcerated for failing for meet child support payments, affecting the upbringing of one's children, it is better to go through the proper channels established by the law. This way, one can maintain their relationship with their children and try to give them the best standard of living possible.