Child support is a highly contentious and polarizing topic. In the majority of cases, mothers are custodial parents, and the fathers are the ones paying child support, although it does sometimes happen the other way around. The object of child support is to ensure that the child is well cared for, as if there were two parents in the family. The amount of child support that a non-custodial parent pays is based upon their income, and if the non-custodial parent fails to pay the support that the court orders, then they will face tough consequences from the courts.
A parent that is delinquent in their child support obligations is ‘in arrears’ and is often referred to as a deadbeat parent. Some counties, and even some states, will post information about ‘deadbeat parents’ online. Consequences for not paying child support, nationwide, range from limitations on movement, all the way up to time in prison.
The Law and Collecting Child Support
District and Columbus child support lawyers can collect child support on the behalf of the custodial parent, and federal child support initiatives, are usually managed by the DHHS’s Office of Child Support Enforcement.
One thing that many people wonder is “Do I need a lawyer when my spouse owes back child support”. Most parents will opt to use an attorney in order to chase the back support. State attorneys can use a number of enforcement measures to encourage a parent to pay, such as:
– A Lien against property or real estate
– Reporting the debt to credit reference agencies
– Garnishing wages
– Freezing bank accounts
– Contempt orders
– The suspension of certain professional licenses/driving licenses (in certain states)
There is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act which lays out jurisdiction matters for cases where there is more than one state to consider in the dispute, and if you are involved in such a complex child support case then you will want to seek advice.
The child’s home state is the state that sets the child support orders, and continuing exclusive jurisdiction is granted to the state where the order was entered. The law of that state is the law that is applied when it comes to modification requests for the order. The custodial parent has the right to have the order sent to an out-of-state court if they need assistance with enforcing it and may also have the order mailed to the non-custodial parent’s employer, to request garnishment of wages.
Child Support Enforcement
Child support orders are handled on a state level, but in general the way that the orders are enforced is quite similar across all of the states. In cases where a parent is delinquent, that parent will be sent a notice which explains the child support process and lays out a time frame within which payments are expected as well as details of how they should comply with the payment. Depending on the amount of child support that they owe, and the length of time that the payments have been past-due for, the state has the right to garnish wages, take payments from unemployment insurance, or enforce other penalties.
Back child support is one of only a very small number of debts that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Deadbeat parents will face the possibility of going to jail for non-payment, but this is not something that will happen if the parent simply cannot pay. If a non-custodial parent is not able to make the payments that they have been ordered to provide, then they must file a motion that requests that their child support is modified. If they do not file, then they run the risk of being issued with a default judgement for their delinquency, and this could affect their credit rating, professional certifications, ability to travel, and more.
Collecting Child Support
If a parent is struggling because of a delinquent spouse, then they may need help to collect the back-child support. It is possible to collect back child support yourself, in some cases, if you are willing to put in the time and if the case is simple and clear cut. Many cases are not, however, and if you are not well familiar with the law then it may be easier to get the help of a lawyer to collect the back-child support for you. A good family law attorney will be able to handle the case quickly and efficiently. You can contact a family lawyer and get a free course review, so they can tell you whether it is worth collecting back child support.
The consequences of failure to pay child support can be particularly serious for business owners – especially those who need a professional license. If a person wants to continue practicing their business, then they will need to pay that back-child support.
As a parent who is in receipt of, or who has been awarded, child support, it is important that you stand up for your rights. You were awarded that child support so that you could take full care of your children, and there is no need for you to feel guilty for trying to get the payments that you are entitled to. Whatever the relationship that you have with your former spouse, they have a role in the raising of their children, and it is important that they take financial responsibility for their child. The courts are there to help you make sure you get what you need.
Family lawyers can help you if your spouse owes back child support. There is no legal requirement for you to use a lawyer – you can chase the payments yourself – but in many cases the services that a lawyer offers will save you time and stress and make it more likely that the delinquent parent is forced to face the consequences of their actions more quickly. Seek legal advice, and make sure that your child gets the upbringing and quality of life that they are entitled to, through payment of spousal support.