Law & Legal & Attorney Children Law

Understanding the Methods of Child Support Enforcement

Just because you have an open child support order, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is being "enforced".
The terminology "child support enforcement" typically refers to the procedures and processes in place to aggressively pursue a delinquent obligor.
Enforcement tactics vary from one state to the next, however there are a few common practices used throughout the U.
Methods of Enforcement: Wage garnishment: When a child support order is initially established through the family court system, the obligor is typically not immediately placed under wage assignment.
Judges and family court hearing officers like to give the obligor (person paying child support) the benefit of the doubt and will allow them the opportunity to pay voluntarily.
However when an obligor shows a repeated history of not paying or has established a trackable habit of non-payment or under payment, then wage garnishment is the method of enforcement that may be implemented.
To have a wage garnishment, also referred to as wage assignment attached to your case, you must petition the court for enforcement, requesting the garnishment.
This process is fairly simple and as long as there is a proven history of non-payment, the request will likely be approved.
There are some cases and states where a judge may choose to immediately assign wage garnishment upon the establishment of the order, this is common in cases where the obligor fails to show up in court to contest the request.
Suspension of Drivers Licenses and other professional licenses: Failure to pay child support can also result in the suspension of driving privileges and in some states - the suspension of any professional license that the obligor may also hold.
This method of enforcement usually takes place after wage garnishment.
If there is a garnishment order and the obligor is unemployed or working "under the table" and has no reportable income, a suspended drivers license is sometimes enough to get their attention.
In most states, the drivers (or professional) license can not be re-newed or reinstated until a certain amount of arrears has been paid.
This amount may be the full amount due or just a percentage.
Bench Warrant: In some states, the suspension of a license for legal matters such as failure to pay child support or failure to appear in court will result in the automatic issuance of a bench warrant.
When a bench warrant is issued, if the person is ever stopped during a traffic violation or something similar, they will be arrested.
A bench warrant will also appear on any background checks by employers, depending on what type of job the person has - their employer may also be notified.
The obligor will be required to "answer" the bench warrant by appearing before a job where they will be given a "bail" amount.
This "bail" amount is the minimum required to lift the bench warrant.
This money is then applied to your child support account.
Reported to Credit Bureaus: Reporting delinquency to the three major credit bureaus is also another method of child support enforcement.
The terms will be different depending on your state, but usually - after the obligor has fallen behind by X number of dollars, they are reported to the credit bureaus.
It will show up as a civil judgement or lien until the debt is satisfied.
These are just the most common methods of child support enforcement, however many states have gotten creative and have included street sweeps and going to a place of employment to serve on a bench warrant.
Utilize the services available to you if you are owed monies.

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