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Child Support Enforcement


Both parents have an obligation to financially support their child after divorce. Usually one parent will be ordered to pay child support to help provide for the child’s needs. After the divorce court has issued a child support order, if a parent fails to make child support payments, steps may be taken to enforce the order. Parents who are owed child support may contact a divorce lawyer or child support enforcement agency to begin the enforcement process.

Child Support Order Enforcement

State child support agencies and divorce courts collect past due child support from a deadbeat parents using a variety of techniques:

  • Contempt of Court

  • If a parent has failed to make the ordered child support payments, he or she may be held in contempt of court. At a contempt hearing, the parent must provide the court with a legal reason for the unpaid child support or face sanctions for violating an order of the court. A parent found in contempt of court may also be fined, jailed and ordered to pay the other parent’s attorneys’ fees and past-due child support.
  • Wage Garnishment

    If a parent is behind on child support, the court may order his or her wages to be garnished to satisfy the child support debt. The parent’s employer then holds back the ordered amount from wages and sends it to the child support collection agency or the custodial parent. In some states, wage garnishment is automatic upon the issue of a child support order, to ensure that as long as the parent is employed, child support is paid.
  • Seizure of Tax Refunds and Property

    The divorce court may also order the deadbeat parent’s tax refund check be intercepted to pay back child support. If the tax refund is not large enough to satisfy the debt, the court may also seize or place a lien on property owned by the deadbeat parent.
  • License Revocation

    When a parent doesn't pay child support, in some states the court may order his or her driver’s license and professional licenses revoked until the child support debt is paid.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer

If you owe or are owed unpaid child support, contact a local divorce lawyer to discuss your options. Call 877-349-1310 or fill out a divorce case review form to get started on protecting your child's financial future.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of child support enforcement is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.