If you are a parent who is struggling to collect child support, there are several different ways to go about getting the money you are owed. To start, the parent or custodian that is owed the child support should try getting the money voluntarily. Some of the ways to get a parent to voluntarily send child support include:
When these methods have been exhausted and the parent is still refusing to pay the child support, it may be time to step things up a bit. The next line of recourse is through civil courts. It is important to note that the particulars regarding these options vary by state, so be sure to check with your attorney. Some of the ways a civil court can go about collecting the money owed is:
- Holding the parent in contempt of court – Usually, three things need to happen before a parent can be held in contempt of court. First, there needs to be a court order in place that mandates that the parent has to pay child support, and he or she must know about it. Second, it has to be proven that the parent had the ability to pay the money that was due. Finally, after the first two points have been established, it has to be shown that the parent knowingly refused to pay in compliance with the judge's order. Parents being held in contempt of court can be jailed for months at a time, which can be more than enough of an incentive to get a person to pay what is owed.
- Income Withholding – Is similar to a voluntary wage assignment, but are court ordered instead of voluntary. In most states, the paying parent is required to notify the court immediately following a change of employment or address.
- License Suspension – If a parent is significantly delinquent in his or her child support payments, both professional and driver's licenses can be suspended in almost all states.
- Tax Intercept – Depending on the state that you live in, there are programs that you can apply for that will intercept any lottery winnings or tax refunds set to be paid to the parent. There are certain arrearage requirements for most of these programs, most of which start at $100.
When all of the voluntary and civil collection avenues have been tried and the parent is still refusing to pay his or her fair share of child support costs, criminal charges may be appropriate. Depending on the amount that is due, felony charges may be brought against the offending parent. This can result in years of jail time, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Additionally, the matter could be referred to the United States Attorney, who may bring federal criminal charges.