Enforcing Child Support

How can I enforce a child support order?

One of the key issues in a divorce is child support that a non-custodial parent is required to pay. Far too often, however, so-called deadbeat parents are delinquent and owe back child support. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are state and federal laws to enforce child support orders.

At the federal level the Child Support Enforcement Act empowers state authorities to collect child support in arrears and subject deadbeat parents to a wide range of penalties including jail time. A prison sentence, however, is usually the last resort since locking up a parent will make them unable to earn a living needed to make the payments.

In order to encourage non-custodial parents to pay, the courts cab take a variety of steps by removing certain privileges and imposing restrictions, including:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Property liens
  • Freezing bank accounts
  • Reporting to credit bureaus
  • Contempt order
  • Jail time

In Arizona, the Child Support Enforcement Program offers custodial parents powerful legal recourse to collect court-ordered child support. An arrest warrant can be issued for parents who are delinquent in payments exceeding $5,000. At the same time, the goal of state’s Department of Economic Security is to ensure children are being supported and family bonds are maintained. Accordingly, there are other measures available such as taking legal action to have the courts impose similar actions available under federal law such as garnishing wages, seizing assets, and placing liens on real property.

Lastly, while non-custodial parents have a duty to support their children, there are circumstances that may prevent them from making child support payments. If their financial situation has changed, whether because of unemployment or disability, the child support payment can be adjusted, provided, however, the parent immediately notifies the court.

Given the fact that going through a divorce can be difficult, and issues of child custody and support can be quite contentious, a parent that is seeking to enforce a child support order, or needs to have the payment modified, should engage the services of an experienced family law attorney