While we’re not particular fond of how child support is typically calculated, the failure for any accountability or oversight, and the sweeping severe punishments that are imposed on child support obligors regardless of circumstances – there are still situations where child support obligors willfully fail to pay child support. For those in such a situation and truly need help, it is important for us to discuss what you can do.
It goes without saying that when a lawful order for child support is entered, the child support obligor will pay the child support in the appropriate amount and on time. It almost every single state in the country now, wage garnishments are mandatory. For this reason alone, willful non-payers are factually the minority of those who are behind in child support. In order to willfully disobey a court order for child support, it takes some effort. Voluntarily quitting a job… Being employed in a job that pays wages in whole or in part with cash… Failure to actively seek employment when unemployed… being self-employed and manipulating the books or hiding substantial addition income… these are some of the ways where child support obligors attempt to get out of paying the calculated share of child support, regardless of how anyone may feel about that calculation.
So, what can a child support payee do when it can be shown that an obligor is willfully violating the court’s order? The are various places you can turn for assistance, and some of those outlets will vary from state-to-state. However, be assured that the child support enforcement agencies, both public and private, represent a large industry with a wealth of often very punitive measures at their disposal. You can:
- Contact your child support enforcement agency to start proceedings.
- Be sure that if you don’t have a formal child support order from court, you file a petition with your family court to have one put in place.
- If wage garnishment is not automatic in your jurisdiction, petition the court to ask for one and shift the responsibility from the parent to the parent’s employer. If an employer fails to comply with the order for wage garnishment, they are responsible for the amounts owed.
- You can contract with a private child support collections agency – something that we do not recommend as they typically take a sizable chunk of anything they manage to recover, if they recover anything, and you may even have to pay fees up front regardless of the outcome.
Regardless of which state you live in, every one has some measure of child support enforcement policies, procedures, and staff. Billions of dollars are spent annually on child support enforcement. We are against the harsh measures which are meted out regardless of circumstances, such as involuntary job loss or unemployment, significant health issues which interfere with income generation, wage cutbacks, and the reality that getting a child support reduction for very legitimate reasons is often extremely difficult, costly, and time-consuming. Loss of licenses (including driver’s license), incarceration, and other punitive measures, particularly for the majority of people who are unable to meet the terms of the child support order for justifiable reasons – is counterintuitive and doesn’t help get support in place. Charging obscene penalties and interest means an obligor who has a legitimate reason for needing relief will rarely, if ever, be able to get out from underneath the mountain of debt.
However, we are very understanding of those people who are in need of the child support from a parent who is willfully in contempt of court and deliberately avoiding payment of their obligations. Those people deserve to be tracked down and put in a position where they can help with the necessary financial resources to aid with the upbringing and care for their children.