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What Is Child Support?

Child support is a type of payment paid to support one’s child. It is often ordered when the child’s parents no longer live together against the parent who does not live with the child, also known as the non-custodial parent. Child support is considered to be in the best interest of the child in order to live as comfortably as he or she would have if the parents had stayed together.

What is Back Child Support?

Back child support, also known as retroactive child support, refers to missed child support payments. When two parents of a child either separate (if not married) or divorce (if married), the non-custodial parent has a legal obligation to make monthly child support payments for the child’s basic necessities. If the parent fails to make these payments, the missed support can accrue and may be subject to collection by the parent living with the child (custodial parent). Back child support is usually easier to enforce if the parties have a child support order issued by a court of law or child support enforcement agency.

How to Get Retroactive Child Support?

Unpaid child support payments are fairly common in the United States. If you are a parent owed back child support, you may have an informal agreement with your ex-partner to pay child support, but these are often ineffective without a court order. It is best to seek the assistance of a skilled attorney to help you enforce accrued child support through the legal system. In most instances, a court order will be required to start the collection process.
 
Part of the process in obtaining a court order for child support may require you to divulge the date of birth of your child, date of separation between the parents, whether the non-custodial parent has a job, or any other information that can help the court determine what is owed.

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What is Retroactive Child Support?
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How Are Unpaid Child Support Wages Collected?

If your ex-partner refuses to pay child support, there are a number of ways a court can enforce missed child support payments. All child support orders may automatically deduct the wages of the non-custodial parent. Notwithstanding, collecting past due child support via wage deduction can only be used if the parent has regular and steady employment. If the parent loses his or her job, garnishing his or her wages is not an option.
 
If the wage garnishment does not cover the amount that the parent owes, or is not an available remedy, the custodial parent may recover unpaid child support by seizing the responsible parent’s personal or real property such as cars, house, boat, stocks, and/or trusts, or placing a lien on the properties.
 
The State may also intercept federal and state tax refunds to pay child support. Further, many states can suspend a parent’s license (driver’s, business, or contractor’s license) until child support is paid or even freeze the parent’s financial accounts until payment is received.

Criminal Penalties for Unpaid Child Support

In addition to the above remedies, states can hold parents in contempt of court for failing to pay child support. Contempt of court means that a person has willfully disobeyed a court order. A finding of contempt of court can result in fines or even jail time. It is the non-custodial parent’s responsibility to either demonstrate to the court that he or she has a good reason for not keeping up with child support (such as a loss of a job), or pay the outstanding child support payments.

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Consequences of Not Paying Child Support 

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

If you are trying to collect back child support, filing a claim with the court against your ex-partner may be necessary. A qualified and knowledgeable family law attorney can advise you regarding your legal rights and help you obtain a favorable child support order.

Photo of page author Erin Chan Adams

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 09-14-2017 08:38 PM PDT

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