In cases involving divorce or separation, the court may order the non-custodial parent to make monthly payments in support of the child’s basic needs and upbringing. If any payments are missed, the court will track the amount of back child support payments, and attempt to collect the debt, usually through child support enforcement agencies.

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What are Child Support Enforcement Agencies?

Child support enforcement agencies are usually state-appointed departments that deal with issues involving child support payments. Operating similar to collection agencies, but with more debt collection options, the main goal is the collection of money from individuals who owe unpaid child support. Typical duties of an enforcement agency include:

  • Locating the parent in default, and determining the amount owed.
  • Using debt collection measures such as garnishing wages directly from the debtor’s employer, to enforce the collection of past-due amounts.
  • Monitoring and enforcing regular monthly payments.

Private child support enforcement agencies also exist, and tend to use aggressive tactics such as property liens, to retrieve debt.

How Does Child Support Enforcement Work and what Services do they Provide?

Child support enforcement works when agencies take action by using the following services:

  • Establishing paternity
  • Obtaining court orders for child support
  • Providing payment methods, which can include working with the debtor’s employer to garnish wages
  • Obtaining orders for the child’s health insurance coverage
  • Locating the debtor and their property, and enforcing the collection of payments

In the event of a dispute, state child support enforcement agencies have access to federal records databases containing all child support court orders. Agencies can easily access these records on behalf of the custodial parent, determine what is or is not owed.

How Can I Obtain Child Support Enforcement?

Generally, you will need to contact your state or county’s child support department, and file a request. Once filed, they can determine what remedies you are owed, and begin the process of enforcing your court order. It is important to note that the enforcement of payment is not always automatic, so you need to take action to get results.

What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Child Support?

If someone fails to pay child support, stiff penalties are possible, including:

  • Lawsuits - The parent in default may face a lawsuit by the custodial parent, particularly if there is supporting evidence that the custodial parent suffered measurable losses from the defaulter’s non-payment.
  • Criminal warrant - If a large sum of unpaid child support is involved, the court may issue a warrant for the parent. Penalties can range from fines to jail time.
  • Civil warrant - If a parent does not comply with a child support court order, the custodial parent can file a “contempt of court” complaint, which could result in fines or jail time for the defaulting parent.

Other consequences may include: revocation of passport, driver’s license suspension, loss of government benefits, and ineligibility for hunting or boating licenses.

Read More Information Here: Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Child Support Enforcement?

If you are not receiving the child support payments you are owed, it is a good idea to contact an experienced child support attorney. Though child support enforcement agencies are there to assist you in retrieving payment, they may also require you to jump through hoops with the court. A lawyer in your area can assist you in filing the necessary forms, and representing your best interests.