How to Get Back Child Support

By Tom Streissguth

One of the more difficult aspects of any divorce settlement is payment of child support by the non-custodial parent. In many cases, the parent owing child support falls behind on monthly payments and the custodial parent has no choice but to go through legal channels to force repayment. Fortunately, most states have systems in place to enforce a child support award and impose severe penalties for non-payment.

Step 1

Ensure your case has been filed with your state's child support collection bureau. Every state monitors the payment of child support through a collection agency. The non-custodial parent pays the agency, which in turn distributes the money to the custodial parent. In this way, the state keeps track of how much money has been paid and whether or not the non-custodial parent has fallen behind on payments. It's important to remember that any money transferred directly from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent is not counted as a support payment.

Step 2

File a Motion to Enforce the child support order with the civil court that issued the divorce decree and approved the child support agreement. Alternatively, your state may require you to file a Motion for Contempt or Complaint for Contempt of Court. The court will schedule a hearing, which you must attend; the court may allow a telephonic appearance if you have moved out of the county or state. Explain to the court how and when the child support payments fell behind and the effect this is having on your ability to care for your children. After hearing your arguments, and those of the non-custodial parent, the court will either grant or deny your motion.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Step 3

File the granted motion with the state's child support enforcement agency, if necessary. Enforcement actions may be carried out directly by the court or by the child support enforcement agency and may include garnishment of wages, interception of tax refunds, levies of bank accounts and punitive measures, such as driver's license suspension. If the non-custodial parent does not bring payments up to date, some states prescribe probation or jail time.

Step 4

Hire a private collection agency if the court order fails to resolve past-due child support. Do careful research on the agency before you take this step and check for any consumer complaints against the agency with the state bureau responsible for regulating businesses. With your written authorization, these agencies can contact the non-custodial parent to work out a settlement of the matter, or in some states, levy wages or bank accounts.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Happens If You Don't Follow Divorce Paper Orders?
 

References

Related articles

How to File Contempt of Court on Unpaid Child Support in Georgia

Although child support is the legal obligation of a non-custodial parent, it often goes unpaid. As the back child support amount increases, the custodial parent can take action to enforce the child support order. This action begins with administrative orders from the Georgia Division of Child Support Services and ends with a petition for contempt of court which, if successful, allows the court to sanction, fine and jail the non-custodial parent.

Penalties for Child Support Arrears in California

Falling behind in child support payments under a divorce order can lead to the initiation of enforcement proceedings against a noncustodial parent in the state of California. While this process often involves the Department of Child Services, certain private agencies, attorneys or the other parent can also begin the action. In some cases, penalties for nonpayment can include wage garnishment and suspension of drivers' or professional licenses, as well as tax liens and even jail time. However, if certain circumstance have been met, the noncustodial parent may be entitled to a reduction of the child support amounts by asking the court via a petition for a modification.

Alabama Collection & Distribution of Child Support

When two parents have children together but don't share a household, one parent often needs to provide financial support to the other parent. The state of Alabama assists many parents who pay or collect child support. Although some parents may choose to pay support voluntarily, a state court or child support agency cannot enforce an arrangement without a court order.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Child Support Laws in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee provides for child support payments in cases where couples with minor children are divorcing. ...

What Happens If You Get Behind on Child Support Payments?

If you've lost your job or suffered a financial catastrophe, chances are that you're barely able to make your child ...

Laws Concerning Back Child Support in Indiana

When unmarried, separated or divorced couples have children together, financial issues often become a source of stress ...

Alabama Child Support Arrears Laws

Child support is awarded to a custodial parent to provide financial assistance with a child's basic needs, including ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED