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What are the Different Types of Child Support Enforcement?

Alex Tree
Updated May 16, 2024
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The type of child support enforcement used depends on how long the parent has not paid, the amount due, and the jurisdiction. Some common enforcement methods are wage garnishment, removal of licenses, and fines. In some cases, a person who is not in compliance with child support laws may be jailed, have his or her tax refunds held, or have liens placed on a car or house. Child support enforcement typically becomes stricter the more the parent owes or if the parent attempts to cross into another country while owing child support; for example, passport denial and federal prosecution are legal methods of enforcement used in some countries. Another method of child support enforcement, which is typically done by individuals rather than state officials, is public announcement and embarrassment on the Internet or television news shows.

One typical child support enforcement method involves taking money directly from a parent’s income source so that the parent has no way to withhold payment. The usual method of doing this involves the legal jurisdiction interacting with the parent’s employer so that the employer sends a portion of the parent’s income to the jurisdiction. In the United States, for example, up to around 60 percent of total wages earned can be garnished for the purposes of child support.

Another way that some jurisdictions may enforce child support payments involves the garnishment of tax return funds. In some countries, if someone is behind on his child support payments, tax return funds can be seized to fulfill this obligation. Implementing the seizure of tax return funds usually involves working with the local child support enforcement agency.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the parent can be held in contempt of court for not paying child support. Besides court costs, he or she will likely be ordered to pay the balance in addition to being fined. The fine can be quite hefty, especially if the parent has repeatedly failed to make payments or obviously attempted to evade payment by moving into another region or country.

If the parent fails to pay child support for a certain period of time, such as one year, or the payment owed reaches a certain amount, she may find herself without a driver’s license. This law can usually affect other licenses, from hunting or fishing to medical licenses. The license is usually returned when the parent proves he is up to date on child support payments.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and MyLawQuestions contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon949100 — On May 03, 2014

I understand that everyone who doesn’t have custody of the child should pay child support, but I don’t understand taking 60 percent of one's check for help. If you can’t support the child then there are other options.

The one who does have custody should have way more responsibility in paying for that child. It is a sad part of society that when people talk about obligation, it’s he or she owes this, and he or she can’t pay. Obligation is not about money.

I am simply saying if the custodial parent can't pay more or take care of the child, then the child be given to the non-custodial parent. But if you are the custodial parent who is doing okay paying the bills without child support, then you should be proud of yourself. And if the non-custodial parent is part of the child’s life there is no reason he or she has to pay more than 15 percent of his or her check, but if the non-custodial isn’t part of the child’s life then I agree that he or she should pay a lot more.

Also, I would like to say I have seen hundreds of custodial parents take advantage of welfare and child support. For example, they get themselves tattoos, clothes, alcohol, etc. with the child support money. This topic is really to each their own.

By anon249730 — On Feb 21, 2012

My ex-husband owes nearly $7,000 to my eldest children. He has not filed a tax refund for years, and when garnishes have been set up in the past, he has quit his job before it went through.

When he has been on unemployment, he was paying a mere $30 a month for two children. They did not take arrears out, either. I have contacted the child support agency and they have now started cross checking bank account details, taxes etc. However, they told me that it's not likely anything will turn up. They encouraged me to keep an eye out on the social networking sites as people tend to let their guards down.

What hurts the most is that he doesn't seem to care. All I want is help to support the children we had together, so that they can enjoy activities, etc. that other kids do when they have both parents supporting them.

The only other means is to pay nearly half what he owes them to a private investigator and try and catch him out as to where he gets his income. That is totally out of the question to me as I don't have that kind of money lying around. I would do it myself, but I live in a different state.

By live2shop — On Sep 17, 2011

@B707 - If the parent who has been ordered to pay child support doesn't have a job, it's difficult to get payment. Your neighbor could try to get his income tax return garnished. I'm not sure if unemployment compensation can be garnished. Or she could try to get some money from his car or home.

I don't know how taking his driver's license away could help her get payments quickly. And putting him in jail wouldn't help much. If he has no money and no job, it's difficult.

I have never heard of this tactic, but it might help. Embarrassing him by putting a notice on the internet might motivate him to get some kind of a job.

By B707 — On Sep 17, 2011

How long does a custodial parent wait before asking for pretty harsh measures to get the other parent to pay child support? If the parent, who has the children, is on a limited budget and needs that support money every month, what is she/he supposed to do?

A neighbor down the street is in this position. The legal system can't garnish her ex's wages because he is unemployed. She's wondering what ways would be best to get the child support money as soon as possible.

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and MyLawQuestions contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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