No matter what state you live, there is a law that states that every parent has a responsibility to financially support their child. Ideally, the child lives with both parents who share that responsibility. The reality, however, is that almost half of marriages end in divorce, which means there are millions of parents who are either receiving or paying child support.
But what happens when a parent who is ordered to pay child support fails to pay it? What options does the parent who is supposed to receive the support have? If you are in this position, there is one critical thing to remember. Never withhold the other parent’s parenting time because they owe back child support. The courts frown upon this action and the judge could impose some type of sanctions against you as punishment.
There are several options that a parent can take in order to enforce court-ordered child support. If you are in this situation, the first step you should take is to contact a child support attorney who will navigate you through what can often be a complicated – and frustrating – process.
One way to try to avoid the issue of back child support to begin with is to have the court order wage assignment from the beginning. When the court issues a wage assignment order, the parent’s employer will deduct the child support payment from the paying parent’s paycheck and send it to the state agency which handles child support collections.
If wage assignment was not ordered when the original child support order was issued, the receiving parent can request at any time that this method of payment be established. Your attorney can assist you in filing the appropriate motions with the court to request it.
In the majority of cases, wage assignments works, however, there are exceptions. The employer could refuse to comply with the order or the parent could request a stay on the wage garnishment.
If a parent is self-employed, then wage garnishment is not an option.
State Child Support Agency
Each state has a designated agency that oversees child support collection. This agency could be under the umbrella of the state’s department of health and human services, department of revenue, or some other agency. This agency can initiate different collection activities. These actions include:
· Wage garnishment
· Liens on bank accounts
· Liens on real estate
· Attachment of tax refunds
· Attachment of unemployment compensation
· Attachment of lottery winnings
· Suspension of driver’s license
· Suspension of professional license
· Revoking passport
If you are the parent who owes back child support and collection action is taken against you, it is critical that you do not ignore these actions. For example, if the agency suspends your driver’s license and you are caught driving, you will likely face criminal charges for driving on a suspended license.
Child Custody Lawyer can file a petition with the court that issued the original order to hold the paying parent in contempt for failure to pay their support obligation. If the judge finds in your favor, there are several penalties the paying parent could face, including being incarcerated until they pay the amount of back child support they owe.