How Do I Enforce A Child Support Order?
Each state has an agency that oversees the collection of child support. In some states, this is done through the state’s attorney general’s office. Other states may do this through their health and human services agency, while others leave it to the local district attorney’s office. Whatever the rules are in the state you live in, be assured that there are tools that these agencies and the courts can use to enforce child support collection.
In order to enforce a child support order for a parent who is not paying, the receiving parent should contact a family lawyer. The attorney will file a motion with the court to enforce the child support order, as well as hold the paying parent in contempt of court. This motion is filed with the family court that issued the original child support order.
The motion should cover certain factors that will be needed in order for the court to make an informed decision on whether or not enforcement is needed. These factors include the following:
- Information regarding the original order including the part of the order that the paying parent violated
- An explanation as to how the parent failed to comply with the original child support order
- The amount of support that the parent was ordered to pay by the court
- The amount of support the parent has actually paid
- The amount of child support that is in arrears
- A record of all the payments the parent has made
- A copy of the original child support order and any modifications that have been made since the original order was issued
- The relief that is being requested by the receiving parent
The family lawyer will then file the motion with the court. The lawyer will also make arrangements to have the other parent serve a summons regarding the motion for court action. The court will then set a hearing date and both parties will be notified of the date.
There are a number of remedies that the court can issue in order to ensure the paying parent gets current with their child support. They can order a payment plan where the parent must pay an additional amount each month, along with their regular payment, until the back child support is paid up. If the parent claims they are not working, the court can also order job search activities to prove to the court they are actively seeking employment.
The court can also attach a lien against any property the parent has to satisfy the arrears. They can do this to any bank accounts the parent has, as well as any real estate, vehicles, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and lottery winnings.
If these actions do not work, or if the court feels the parent has blatantly disregarded its order, the court may also take the following steps:
- Suspend the parent’s driver’s license
- Suspend any professional license the parent has
- Order wage garnishment, where the parent’s employer will be required to deduct a certain amount from their paycheck each week and send it to the courts. This amount can be as much as 50 percent of their pay.
- Intercept tax refunds for child support repayment
- Sentence the parent to jail