In instances of divorce or separation, a court may order a non-custodial parent to pay child support in monthly payments.  This may be required to assist the child in their upbringing and with basic, essential needs.  In some cases, the non-custodial parent may miss some payments, either intentionally or unintentionally due to unforeseen circumstances.

What happens to these missed payments?  Courts will keep track of the amount of payments that were missed, and may attempt to collect these amounts in the near future.  This is usually done through the assistance of child support enforcement agencies, whose job is to identify, locate, and contact persons with outstanding child support payments.  They may use a variety of methods to attempt to collect child support on behalf of the custodial parent.

How Does Child Support Enforcement Work?

The consequences of not paying child support can be great.  These can include legal consequences such as a contempt order, or loss of visitation rights.  However, the main concern is allowing the child to receive the support that is needed.  Child support enforcement works when state child support office agents take actions such as:

  • Helping establish paternity- this will help determine which person owes the child support
  • Presenting a court child support order- these are backed by law, and need to be obeyed by the paying parent.  Violations can result in legal consequences
  • Provide methods for collecting the child support:  This can include working with the person’s employer to have wages garnished

The most efficient way that child support enforcement works is by having the employer directly withhold part of the paycheck, with the amount going towards child support.  The payments are not made directly to the custodial parent, but are usually deposited in a state account, which then disperses the funds to the custodial parent. 

How Can I Obtain Child Support Enforcement?

Child support enforcement is usually available by contacting your state or county’s child support department.  You will usually need to file a request and present your case to the department, after which they may determine which remedies are required for your claim.  Child support enforcement is not always an automatic process, so you will need to take affirmative steps to get “the ball rolling” on the process.

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

Child support enforcement can sometimes be a rather involved and lengthy process.  You may need to hire a child support lawyer for assistance if you have any child support issues.  Your lawyer can provide you with advice and instructions regarding child support enforcement.  Also, a qualified attorney can help ensure that your rights are represented during court meetings.