Various Ways of Enforcing Child Support

Enforcing court ordered child support is not always as easy as it may seem. While most would like to believe that all parents are responsible enough to financially support their children, many parents do not contribute the whole amount owed to their kids. In fact, some do not pay anything at all.

Because of this fact, there are several ways to go about enforcing child support.  There are several factors that go into determining the best method of collecting the funds. Past payment history, where the parent is located, how much money s/he makes, when the last payment was made and what kind of assets s/he has make a difference in figuring out what avenues are taken to secure the child support payments are made.

In some cases, all it takes to get the parent to send a check in is a simple telephone reminder. There are several other options that can help the parent to pay voluntarily, including monthly billing statements being sent to his or her home and voluntary wage assignments. These should be explored first, before choosing to take more serious action.

That said, if the payments still are not being made regularly (and in the full amount), here are some of the ways that the money can be collected:

Income Withholding

Many states have specific child support divisions that can be petitioned to withhold income directly from a parent’s paycheck. The law regarding this type of payment option varies, so it is important to check to see if it’s available in your area (as well as what requirements are necessary).

Contempt of Court

For parents who want to avoid jail time at all costs, the threat of being held in contempt of court can be more than enough of an incentive to pay what is owed. If a judge finds that a parent is intentionally delinquent in the payment of court ordered child support, the person can be held in contempt of court. As a result, the parent can be sentenced to jail for months at a time.

Because it is a civil matter, being held in contempt of court does not result in a criminal conviction. Still, there is a certain amount of evidence that needs to be presented at the hearing. Usually, this evidence consists of documentation that the parent was:

  • Aware of the order to pay child support
  • Financially capable of making the payments
  • Refused to pay in compliance with the judge’s order
  • License Suspension

Some states have laws on the books that can suspend a parent’s professional and/or driver’s license if child support is past due. Again, this law varies by state. In Indiana, for example, licenses can be suspended if the parent hasn’t made a payment in three months or if the arrearage is over $2,000.

If none of the above civil payment collection methods have worked, criminal charges can be brought against the parent involved. Before this happens, all civil options should be exhausted to the fullest extent. After all, it is difficult for a person in jail to generate enough income to make child support payments.

Criminal Charges

This is yet another area of family law that is different from state to state. In many cases, however, if the child support owed is over a certain amount the parent can be charged with a felony. On top of several years of imprisonment, the parent can be charged tens of thousands of dollars in fees.

Additionally, the matter can be referred to the U.S. Attorney General, which can result in federal criminal charges.

Contact a child support attorney in your area today!


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