Are you entitled to child support and the parent of your children doesn’t pay? You’re not the only one dealing with this issue. But understand collecting child support is your right.
Most parents don’t pay a significant amount of child support. The average amount of child support owed is only $5,760 per year. However, this many can help cover essential childcare expenses such as groceries and school supplies.
So what happens when the court orders a non-custodial parent to pay child support but they don’t pay? There are some actions you can take. Here’s what to do when court-ordered child support isn’t paid.
What to Know About Court-Ordered Child Support
Receiving child support is your legal right. Child support is ordered by the court. If a parent refuses to pay or misses payments, you have the right to take them to court.
Before payments begin, the district attorney meets with the non-custodial parent to set up the payment agreement. From here, the parent is provided paperwork that states the date the payments are due and for how much.
These papers also identify the consequences of missed child support payments. Court time and arrest are the two biggest consequences.
However, the court may impose other punishments. This includes:
- Garnishing wages
- Withholding federal tax returns
- Seizing property
In severe cases, the court can withhold business licenses, occupational licenses, denying passport issuance, and even a personal drivers license.
What to Do If a Non-Custodial Parent Isn’t Paying Child Support
If a parent isn’t receiving child support, what are the next steps a custodial parent should take? The two main options are reaching out to your child support office and seeking assistance from a lawyer.
Contact the Child Support Office
When you established child support, you likely connected with the child support office in your state. This department takes the child support payment from the parent’s paycheck, ensuring they pay their child support on time and in full.
Unfortunately, this situation doesn’t always happen the way it should. The non-custodial parent may lose their job, making it difficult to know their current employment situation.
The non-custodial parent can also go MIA. They can move, get new contact information, or simply just ignore every contact attempt.
If you’re not receiving your child support, call your state’s child support office. They will find the non-custodial parent’s whereabouts, including their new location and new place of employment.
From here, the child support office will try every advance to get the non-custodial parent to pay. If all else fails, you have the option to take the parent to court.
Take the Parent to Court and Contact a Lawyer
If you have no luck receiving child support through your local child support office, you have the right to take the non-custodial parent to court.
Child support lawyers help you in court but they also help you understand your rights as a custodial parent. They can help you understand your rights, the amount you receive, and when the non-custodial parent needs to pay.
In addition, your lawyer can also help you understand both federal and state child support laws.
Attorneys can help you receive child support because they’re experts in your state’s child support laws. They look at how much child support is required and when.
They compare this information to the amount the parent paid and how often.
In court, your lawyer can negotiate a way to make up for the missed payments. Examples include a payment plan to make up the past due payments while also paying the required payments.
If the non-custodial parent fails to appear in court, a warrant for their arrest may be issued.
What If the Non-Custodial Parent Lives Out of State?
Every state has its own child support laws and requirements. However, receiving child support is a federal right for custodial parents. This is thanks to the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992.
No matter which state the non-custodial parent lives in, they’re still required to pay child support.
When a Non-Custodial Parent Is Exempt From Paying Child Support
Custodial parents should understand a few situations call for a non-custodial parent to be exempt from paying child support, or at least the full amount. Here are a few examples.
They Lose Their Job
When a non-custodial parent doesn’t have income, they can temporarily be relieved of their child support payment duties. This is only the case if they file a petition with the court.
You Received Your Court Order Late
Let’s say you and the parent of your child divorced a year ago.
However, you didn’t receive your court order for child support until recently. The non-custodial parent doesn’t have to pay child support for the previous year — only after they receive the court order.
The Non-Custodial Parent Paid Incorrectly
All child support payments are managed by your state’s child support office. The non-custodial parent always pays child support through the system the child support office sets up for them.
Let’s say you decide to pay the custodial parent with cash and there was proof (text messages from the custodial parent, etc.).
The custodial parent can’t sue the non-custodial parent for lost arrearages because there’s proof they paid the full amount on time — even though they used an incorrect method.
It’s still best to avoid this situation and ensure payments are paid and received through your state’s child support office.
The Non-Custodial Parent Doesn’t Provide Extra Money
The non-custodial parent is only supposed to pay the amount agreed upon by your state’s child support office.
If you asked for extra money, they’re not required to pay this amount — especially if they pay their child support in full and on time.
Receive Your Child Support
Is the deadbeat parent not paying your court-ordered child support? There are laws that can assist you. Contact your state’s child support office. If this doesn’t work, hire a lawyer and take the non-custodial parent to court.
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