Enforcing Child Support Orders

You can’t just ignore your co-parent’s failure to pay support, because that can make a huge difference to how much you are left paying and what it takes to care for your child. Fortunately, there are many ways to enforce child support orders when your co-parent doesn’t comply with them.

The first step is to contact your local child support agency or the Department of Social Services (DCSE) where you have your child custody case. The agency can help you with your child support case and may take administrative steps to get the non-paying parent to follow through on the order.

If the agency doesn’t have any luck in getting your co-parent to follow through with the order, it may refer your case for court action. This usually happens when the agency cannot get the non-paying parent to pay through administrative means.

When a non-paying parent is referred for court action, the FOC will file a show cause hearing in family court and ask the judge to hold the person in contempt of court. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to impose any remedy, such as requiring the other parent to pay more child support or suspending their driving license.

Enforcement methods vary by state but can include wage attachment, garnishment and tax refund interceptions, among others. Some states also allow the SCU to seize money from State and federal income taxes, lottery winnings, bank accounts and other assets to cover unpaid support.

A wage attachment is the most common method for enforcing support payments. Wage attachment occurs when the employer or other business has knowledge of an individual’s failure to follow an order to pay child support.

The court can levy up to 50 percent of your co-parent’s paycheck or other source of income to satisfy support obligations. This can be a significant amount of money, especially if your co-parent has been working long enough to make the payments.

In addition, if your co-parent is receiving Social Security benefits, a federal law allows the government to intercept those funds as well. Moreover, the IRS can withhold your co-parent’s tax refund if they are ordered to pay child support.

If your co-parent has lost a job, or has become financially unstable because of a new health condition or other situation, the court can modify your support order. A modification could change the amount of child support that is owed going forward, giving both you and your co-parent time to work out practical solutions.

However, a modification will require careful consideration and negotiation between both parties. It’s best to have a Dade County family attorneys assist you in the process.

Your local attorney in Miami can also file a motion for a modification if you have a substantial change in your circumstances that could affect the amount of child support owed. This could be a gain or loss in employment, unexpected medical costs, changes in alimony or child support, or even the birth of a second child.