Nonsupport Law and Legal Definition

In the context of family law, nonsupport refers to the failure by a spouse to provide necessary care for their family when able to do so. Nonsupport is governed by state laws, which vary by state.

The following is an example of a state statute governing nonsupport:

(a) A person commits the crime of nonsupport who fails to provide support which that person is able to provide and knows the person has a duty to provide to a minor child or to a child or spouse who, because of physical or mental disability, is unable to be self-supporting.

(b) "Child" includes legitimate children and children whose parentage has been admitted by the person charged or established by judicial action.

(c) "Support" includes, but is not limited to, financial assistance, food, shelter, clothing, medical attention or, if determined elsewhere by law, other necessary care.

(d) A person commits the offense of flagrant nonsupport who:

(1) Leaves or remains without the state to avoid a legal duty of support; or

(2) Having been convicted one (1) or more times of nonsupport or flagrant nonsupport, is convicted of a subsequent offense under this section.

(e) Nonsupport under subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor. Flagrant nonsupport under subsection (d) is a Class E felony.

Another state statute is as follows:


(1) Having any child under the age of eighteen (18) years dependent upon him or her for care, education or support, deserts such child in any manner whatever, with intent to abandon it;

(2) Willfully omits, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical attendance for his or her child or children, or ward or wards; provided however, that the practice of a parent or guardian who chooses for his child treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to be a violation of the duty of care to such child;

(3) Having sufficient ability to provide for a spouse's support, or who is able to earn the means for such spouse's support, who willfully abandons and leaves a spouse in a destitute condition, or who refuses or neglects to provide such spouse with necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical attendance, unless by the spouse's misconduct he or she is justified in abandoning him or her;

Shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by imprisonment for not to exceed fourteen (14) years, or both.