By Rebecca Ripley
Baltimore Divorce Lawyer, Cordell & Cordell
While there may be room for discretion or leeway in certain cases, it is a pretty narrow issue involving statutory guidelines, percentages, and a handful of formulas.
Generally, there are two courses of action a party can take to enforce a child support award: utilizing the state child support agency or filing a motion for contempt.
State Child Support Enforcement
The first is seeking enforcement through the state’s child support enforcement agency. These agencies use social security numbers and employment records to find non-custodial parents.
There are several reasons that this can take time. The major problem is that social security reports tend to run on a quarterly basis, or once every three months. So if the non-custodial parent changed jobs, it may take a while to receive the report that the party is working.
Typically, an Income Withholding Order, or some similar order allowing child support due to be taken directly from the owing party’s paycheck, survive even if the non-custodial parent changes jobs.
These orders can be sent directly to the non-custodial parent’s employer and can result in speedy results. If you do not have an Income Withholding Order presently, it is something that you may want to request should you find yourself back in court.
A state agency can also enforce a child support award by intercepting any tax refund the non-custodial parent may receive. The state can also take punitive action and suspend the non-custodial parent’s driver’s license.
Of course, if the non-custodial parent is unemployed, the state cannot collect from non-existent earnings.
Child Support Collection:
Contempt of Court
The other course of action is to file a Complaint for Contempt of Court for the non-custodial parent’s failure to abide by the court’s order. This would bring the non-custodial parent before the court and require the party to show cause as to why the person is not abiding by the court’s order.
If found to be in contempt, the court will most likely require the non-custodial parent to take some kind of action, such as making a lump sum payment of owed support, to bring them into compliance.
Collecting child support can be a battle and can take time, but once child support has been found to be due, the arrears never go away until they are paid.
So, if the child reaches the age of emancipation and there are arrears (unpaid child support) that have not been paid, that amount is due until it is paid and does not go away regardless of the age of the child.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.