Each state, and even the federal government, has a child support enforcement program. These programs work with prosecuting attorneys, district attorneys, and other law enforcement agencies to enforce the child support orders of the local courts.
Before Enforcing the Child Support Order
Before enforcing the child support order, the state child support enforcement agency will first try to find the non-custodial parent. The state will look at:
- The non-custodial parent's Social Security number
- The child's birth certificate
- The child support order
- The divorce decree
- The name and address of the current or most recent employer
- The names of friends, relatives or organizations to which the non-custodial parent might belong
- Information about income and assets
- Telephone directories
- Motor vehicle registries
- Tax files
- Unemployment records
Government Child Support Enforcement
A parent can be required to pay child support by withholding their income from their paycheck. Child support payments can also be collected from:
- Federal and state income tax refunds
- Liens placed on property
- Sale of property
When the non-custodial parent has failed to pay child support, there are several enforcement options:
- Unpaid or late child support payments can be reported to the credit reporting bureaus damaging the non-custodial parents' credit rating.
- Drivers, professional, occupational and recreational licenses can be suspended forcing the non-custodial parent to pay child support in order to work in their field.
- Criminal cases can be filed by the district attorney against continually delinquent parents who owe a lot of money in child support resulting in fees, conviction of a criminal offense and jail time.
- State child support enforcement agencies have agreements with banks and loan companies to freeze and seize accounts of non-custodial parents owing back child support.
- The U.S. State Department will deny a passport to any parent who owes more than $5000 in back child support limiting the non-custodial parent's ability to travel for work or pleasure.
- Some states even publish a list of "Most Wanted Child Support Evaders" and attempt to humiliate non-custodial parents into making their child support payments.
Private Enforcement Agencies
There are hundreds of private child support enforcement companies that will locate the non-custodial parent and seek to collect child support payments on your child's behalf. These companies often charge a fee for their services. These fees are commonly known as contingent fees, which means that they will keep a percentage of how much child support they collect on your child's behalf. The usual fee is 30% of the total they collect for your child.
If You Are Ordered to Pay Child Support
The non-custodial parent has the right to:
- Request that the court review the amount of support payments and modify that amount if it supports the best interest of the child
- Hire an attorney represent them on child support and enforcement issues. Unlike in criminal cases, the state is not required to provide indigent parents with an attorney. Instead, the non-custodial parents isresponsible for paying all attorney's fees.
- Request a DNA test if they do not believe that the child is theirs
A non-custodial parent is responsible for:
- Paying support in full and on time according to the court's order
- Telling the local child support enforcement agency whenever they change jobs or move
- Paying all additional costs such as court fees and charges for DNA testing
There is currently over $102 billion owed in child support payments in America today. Every year, parents collect only 7% of total child support payments owed to them. Approximately 25% of all children who are not receiving child support payments live below the national poverty line. Child support enforcement is also big business. Before retaining a private company to collect child support payments on your child's behalf, be sure to research the company's record. Consider the company's customer service and fee arrangements. Make sure that you have gone to the local child support enforcement agencies in your state before hiring a private company to collect child support payments for your child.