A Guide on How to Handle Unpaid Child Support

There are many reasons why a parent might fall behind on making their child support obligations. However, the law can be very unforgiving to those who willfully disregard a child support order.

Parents who receive child support often rely on these payments to meet their children’s needs. Any delay or interruption in receiving these payments can have a devastating impact in providing for the children and creates unnecessary financial hardships for the Primary Residential Parent. Here, we discuss four proactive steps a PRP can take to handle and get a grip on unpaid child support:

1. Negotiate with Parent Who Owes Child Support

In some cases, parents can negotiate with each other in an effort to gain the other parents’ compliance with the support order without initiating legal proceedings. However, remember that the money due, is for the children, and it is money that is already due and payable. There is no need to negotiate down the amount owed. Remember, that it is in the Alternate Residential Parent’s best interest to comply with the support order.

2. File A Motion to Enforce Child Support Order

If or when negotiations fail, it is imperative that the PRP take other actions to enforce compliance. Collecting back child support money or arrears can get complicated and stressful. Consulting with an attorney is likely the best approach. An attorney can take immediate action to help enforce the support order for their clients. Some of the enforcement tools that can be used against the other parent include, but are not limited to seeking a Wage Assignment Order, Income Withholding Order, withhold/intercept tax refunds, obtaining an Order that the delinquent parent pays the attorneys fees and costs incurred by the PRP to enforce the order, and the court can revoke the delinquent parent’s driver’s license and can be sentenced to jail time.

3. Property Liens for Unpaid Child Support

A “lien” is a legal claim filed against the real or personal property of a delinquent party for payment of a debt, or in this case, for failure to pay child support. Section 368 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 requires all states to establish laws that permit liens to be placed against any real and personal property owned by a delinquent parent who has an unpaid child support obligation. Enforcement actions that include a lien against the personal and real property of a delinquent parent can be most effective in gaining the parent’s compliance with the support order.

4. Levies on Bank and Financial Institution Accounts

Another very effective tool in gaining compliance with the support order is to obtain a levy against the delinquent parent’s bank or financial accounts sufficient to pay the balance in full. Levies can be placed against a broad range of banking and financial accounts, including checking, savings, and brokerage accounts.

Do not delay when it comes to enforcing child support orders. Contact an experienced attorney today to help you handle your unpaid child support case.