Enforcing Child Support Payments

Parents have the legal duty to provide for their child. While you cannot force someone to be a part of your child’s life, you can get an order enforcing financial support. Whether you are divorced or a single parent, a child support order can ensure your child gets valuable benefits they may be entitled to, while providing you with financial assistance in meeting their various needs. Once an order is in place, it can be legally enforced if the other parent refuses to pay, subjecting them to a variety of penalties, including asset seizure and wage garnishment.


Ways To Enforce Payment

In addition to providing financial assistance in meeting your child’s needs, filing an order for child support ensures they receive any Social Security or veteran’s benefits they may be entitled to through that parent, both now and in the years to come. Once an order is approved by the family court judge, it can be enforced by filing a motion for contempt. The amount owed to your child will continue to accrue monthly until the debt is paid in full, and the court may use a variety of enforcement actions to collect payment. While each state varies, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) advises that the following are actions that may be taken against those who are in default of child support orders:

  • Wage garnishment: Using an automated system, your child support payments may be deducted automatically from the other parent’s pay.
  • Benefit attachment: If they are currently not working, payments may be deducted from any Social Security or military benefits, as well as from unemployment and workers’ compensation wages they receive.
  • Tax refund seizure: If they are entitled to a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service, it may be seized and put towards payment of the child support debt.
  • Property liens and levies: If they own property, it may be seized or a levy may be issued on it, preventing them from selling until the debt is settled.
  • Asset seizure: In addition to tax refunds, money in financial accounts owned by the non-paying parent, such as checking or savings accounts, may be seized, as well as any state lottery winnings.


Penalties for Non-Payment Of Child Support

In addition to seizing assets to satisfy child support debts, the NCSL advises that additional penalties a parent in violation of a court order may face include:

  • Drivers’ license suspension and vehicle registration denial;
  • Denial of passport or travel VISA;
  • Derogatory reports sent to credit unions and damage to credit rating;
  • Civil contempt of court charges, which may include heavy fines;
  • Criminal contempt of court charges, including mandatory jail sentences.


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