When parents of young children divorce, the court orders child support to ensure that the child’s needs are met. When the parent who is ordered to pay does not meet their child support obligation, there are options to address it.
Child support overview
When the court awards child support, it takes several factors into consideration. These include the income of both parents, the number of children the parents have, whether there is a parenting arrangement in place between the parents and whether there are extra expenses, like medical care, childcare or education costs.
The calculation is based on both parents’ wages, salaries, bonuses or any other income. If either parent has a substantial change in circumstances that affects their income, like a new job or job loss, parents can request a child support modification.
Enforcing the order
The most common method to enforce a child support order is through income withholding. This is also referred to as wage garnishment. The non-paying parent’s employer will receive an order from the court requiring them to deduct the child support amount from the parent’s paycheck. Then, they are required to send the payment to the state child support agency.
The receiving parent also has an option to file a motion for contempt of court. This applies where the parent has willfully failed to pay child support. The non-paying parent may be subject to penalties, such as fines, imprisonment or community service.
The state can also intercept the non-paying parent’s state and federal tax refunds and apply them to the outstanding amount of child support. The non-paying parent’s property can be seized as well, including bank accounts.
There are resources available to help parents who are not receiving child support payments.