Family Law

Collecting Past-Due Child Support Payments

By Kristina Otterstrom, Attorney
Learn how to collect past-due child support, and find out how an attorney can help.

Child support orders are typically pretty straightforward: you pay a set amount every month or face consequences. But some parents don’t take support awards seriously, while others try to shirk their duty entirely. If you’re not receiving court-ordered child support payments on time, you can turn to the courts for help.

State Income Withholding for Child Support

In some states, child support awards are automatically registered with the state child support enforcement agency and then paid each month through automatic income withholding, which allows your state agency to deduct child support directly from the other parent’s employer. The agency will pay the custodial parent directly, which helps avoid a lot of the headache of collecting support. If you’re not receiving support payments from your child’s other parent, you should consider registering your support order.

Additionally, state child support collection agencies can help parents collect overdue child support payments. The agency may collect current and past-due child support payments. A judge may reduce monthly make-up payments to avoid placing a financial burden on a parent. Many states have laws preventing a support collection agency from withholding more than 50% of a parent’s paycheck.

Federal and State Tax Refunds

When it comes to child support, federal and state agencies have a variety of collection tools available to them. If a parent’s past-due child support balance reaches a certain amount, the IRS can intercept the delinquent parent’s income tax refund. Tax refund interceptions are handled through your state’s local child support enforcement agency. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to register your child support order, so your state agency can notify the other parent of their delinquent payments and give them the opportunity to catch up. If the parent fails to pay, your state agency will notify the IRS and withdraw overdue child support from the tax refund.

Other Methods For Collecting Past-Due Support

State child support enforcement agencies have several alternative means of collecting overdue support. Parents who refuse to pay support can face serious consequences. These agencies can place liens on a parent’s personal property when income withholding and other means of collection fail. A lien prevents a parent from selling property, such as a home or vehicle, without first paying past-due child support. In certain cases, a state child support enforcement agency can also freeze a delinquent parent’s bank account to collect overdue support.

Dealing with child support issues can be confusing and even difficult. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the murky waters of collecting past due support.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • My ex is out of a job and hasn’t paid child support for over a year. I’m also struggling financially. What can I do?
  • I am owed thousands in back child support, but my child’s other parent is self-employed and hiding assets. I know he can pay support but chooses not to. How do I collect?
  • I took reduced child support payments from my ex for a few years, but now that she’s got a good job I’d like her to pay the difference. Did I waive my right to collect past due support by collecting a reduced amount?
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This article was verified by:
Dominic J. Baccarella | May 11, 2015
4144 N. Armenia Avenue, Suite 220
(813) 254-8998 View Profile

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