Child support plays an important role in your ability to care for your children, so if your ex falls behind on these payments or simply refuses to comply with the court order, this can create some serious challenges for you. Thankfully, this is a matter that family courts treat seriously. Continue reading to learn more about how the court may compel your former spouse to pay child support.
The Process of Enforcing Child Support
Whenever someone violates a court order, they are guilty of “civil contempt.” Even if you created your original child support agreement together or through mediation, it was ultimately approved by a court. Therefore, failure to meet that agreement represents a form of civil contempt.
With your attorney’s help, you can file a motion for civil contempt against your former spouse. You must build a case against your ex, and you must prove a few different claims:
- Your original child support order was approved and signed by a judge.
- The other parent has not made payments, thereby failing to meet the original order.
- The other parent can make payments. They are simply refusing to do so.
In most cases, the court will assume that this claim is true. It will be up to the other parent to prove that they cannot keep up with payments.
Enforcing Your Child Support Order
As the custodial parent, you already provide a substantial amount of care for your children, which is why family courts typically order the non-custodial parent to pay child support. If your ex stopped paying child support, however, there are a number of enforcement tools that may be used.
Here are some ways in which child support may be enforced, depending on the circumstances of your case:
- Wage assignment or income withholding: Instead of income going directly to the delinquent parent, child support will be taken directly from these wages to ensure payment.
- Placing liens: There are several items the court can place liens on. These include cars, homes, or other personal property.
- Forced selling of property: The court may even force the delinquent parent to sell their car if they owe $600 or more in child support. It may even claim and sell any of the parent’s unclaimed or abandoned property.
- Creating a payment plan: The court may believe that the delinquent parent wants to correct their mistake, and it may allow them the opportunity to get caught up.
- Intercepting money: The state can stop money from going to the delinquent parent and use it to cover back payments. This includes federal tax returns, lottery winnings of $500 or more, and even workers’ compensation payments.
- Freezing credit: The court can freeze some forms of credit, such as a home equity line.
- License suspension and restrictions on passports: In some cases, a delinquent parent’s license may be revoked or suspended. Moreover, the parent may be barred from renewing a passport.
- Other license suspensions: The state also has the authority to suspend professional licenses and certifications held by the delinquent parent.
- Contempt of court: You may also go to court to obtain this legal order, which can result in jail time or a fine for the delinquent parent.
If your co-parent left the state or country to evade child support payments, or the amount owed is over $5,000, the punishments may be even more severe. For a first offense, the delinquent parent may serve a prison sentence of up to 6 months and pay a fine. For a second offense, the prison sentence may be up to 2 years and the fine may be up to $250,000.
As you can see, this matter is not handled lightly, so do not hesitate to speak to an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible to get started on your child support enforcement case.
Reach Out to an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today!
If you are dealing with a deadbeat parent who refuses to pay child support, the experienced family law team at the Law Office of Russell S. Hershkowitz, L.L.C. can provide the skilled legal assistance you need to enforce it. We understand how important it is for you and your family to receive child support and will ensure you achieve the results you deserve.
Call our law office today at (407) 753-4111 to set up a consultation.