Child Support Enforcement: How Do You Deal With a Deadbeat Parent?

In every state, strict child support enforcement laws hold divorced parents to continually support their children. However, in the past, many kids have grow up in homes without the financial support they need. This lack of support has led to many problems for the children. Fortunately, deadbeat parents are finding it harder to skip out on child support. Federal, state, and local agencies can employ harsh child-support collection tools. Learn about child support enforcement laws as well as how they work below.

Establishing Child Support

First, you must establish child support through a court order. If both you and your spouse agree on an appropriate amount for support, a judge will approve the agreement and make it official. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree, you’ll need to ask the judge to set the amount. To better your odds of an appropriate amount, consider hiring an experienced child support attorney to file a request for a child support order.

If you cannot afford an attorney, your local child support service office can help you establish, collect, and enforce, child support orders. These type of services act on behalf of the child receiving the financial support, rather than representing either parent. These services can also obtain medical support orders, establish paternity, and locate deadbeat parents.

How Child Support Enforcement Works

Once a child support order is established, the order must be obeyed. If the delinquent parent does not meet child support requirements, the custodial parent may request help from an attorney or from their local Office of Child Support Services (OCSS). The delinquent parent can be subject to the following child support enforcement tools:

  • Wage Deductions: a custodial parent may request a wage assignment or income withholding order. Through wage deduction, you can directly take child support through the non-custodial parent’s wages.
  • License Revocations and Suspensions: the delinquent parent may have their professional license(s) and/or driver’s license revoked or suspended.
  • Passport Restrictions: to prevent the delinquent parent from leaving the country, they can be prevented from renewing their passport.
  • Intercepting Federal Income Tax: if the delinquent parent has a large tax refund, the state can intercept that refund to cover missing child support payments.
  • Contempt of Court: this is a legal order that can result in jail time or a fine for the delinquent parent. To enact this legal order, the custodial parent must go to the court and obtain the order from a judge.

Using the child support enforcement tools above, you can force deadbeat parents to pay the support they owe.

When to Get the Federal Government Involved

You can involve the Federal Government, or the U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG), in child-support cases when the delinquent parent lives in a different state than where the child resides, and if:

  • The amount owed is more than $5,000
  • Child support has not been paid for over 1 year
  • The non-custodial parent travels to another county or state to avoid paying child support

For the first offense, the delinquent parent can be subject to fines and/or up to 6 months imprisonment. For a second offense, or for cases where child support has not been paid for two years or more, or if the amount owed is $10,000 or more, the delinquent parent can be subject to 2 years imprisonment and/or up to $250,000 in fines.

The OIG keeps an online list of the most notorious deadbeat parents. “Project Save Our Children” (PSOC) both investigates and prosecutes the country’s worst deadbeat parents and child support cases. It is a multiagency task force with members from the Office of Child Support Enforcement, the Administration for Children and Families, OIG Special Agents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, PSOC identifies, investigates, and prosecutes the worst child support offenders that meet the criteria for Federal Prosecution.

Get Help With Child Support Enforcement

You can get help with child support enforcement in a number of ways. One way is to consult a family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today to learn more about how to deal with an uncooperative or deadbeat parent.