Collecting Unpaid Child Support

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Collecting Unpaid Child Support

Unpaid child support is a significant problem in the United States. According to the Federal Office of Child Support:

Although these are bleak facts, there are many options available to collect unpaid child support.

What Are Child Support Wage Deductions?

In 1994, all child support orders were required to automatically deduct from the paying parent's wages. The wage deduction takes effect immediately unless the parties have agreed otherwise. Wage withholding can be used to collect current support as well as past-due support.

There are limits to wage deduction. Wage deduction orders are effective in collecting support only if the parent:

If the parent loses a job, there is, of course, no wage from which to make a deduction. If the parent changes jobs, the new employer must be served with a deduction notice before wages are withheld. If a parent is self-employed, the parent is still obliged to send payments.

Can I Collect Child Support from Tax Refunds?

The state also can intercept federal and state tax refunds to pay child support. This is a useful remedy if the obligor-parent has a sizeable refund due. However, the interception of tax refunds is usually only helpful for one year.

Once a paying-parent has a tax refund seized, that parent often adjusts deductions of taxes from wages so that refunds in future years will be minimal.

Are There Criminal Penalties for Not Paying Child Support?

There can be many legal consequences for not paying child support. States can hold parents in contempt of court for failing to pay child support. Contempt of court means that the person charged with contempt has willfully not done something that the court has ordered. A finding of contempt of court can result in:

If the parent cannot pay support for a good reason, such as loss of a job without fault of the parent, a court will not find the parent in contempt. But the parent's obligation to pay support still continues.

License Suspension for Unpaid Child Support

Many states can suspend an individual's licenses if he or she has significant arrearages (unpaid child support) or does not consistently pay support. For example:

This authority does not extend to professionals who receive licenses through non-governmental agencies.

Should I Consult an Attorney About Unpaid Child Support?

Yes. Collecting child support is a difficult and complicated process. If you are owed unpaid child support, an experienced family law attorney can help you collect what is owed to you and your child. If you owe child support, an attorney can help explain the law and protect your rights.

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Last Modified: 04-07-2015 12:02 PM PDT

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