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How delinquent child support is handled

Following a divorce, child support is often awarded to the custodial parent to help pay for the upbringing of the child or children. Thanks to the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, rules have been put in place to help custodial parents receive the child support payments. The district attorney will typically serve papers to the other spouse with a payment arrangement and schedule to follow. Failure to follow this order can lead to significant penalties, and even imprisonment.

Sending a delinquent spouse to jail for failing to pay child support payments may be counter-productive, because these so-called "deadbeat" parents oftentimes do not pay support due to their financial situation. Putting the person in jail will usually only exacerbate the situation. Thankfully, there are other alternatives to recover the overdue money.

The court may impose any of the following in an effort to collect child support: the withholding of federal tax refunds, wage withholdings, the seizure of property, the suspension of an occupational or business license and the revocation of the person's driver's license. For those who owe more than $2,500, the U.S. Department of State may also refuse to issue a passport.

For spouses who move to another state, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act created specific procedures and options to continue the child support payments. If the original state still has jurisdiction over the ex-spouse, that state will continue enforcement. If not, the current state of the ex-spouse will take over the enforcement. Additional acts, such as the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 and the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, further aid the custodial parent, making it a federal crime and a felony to refuse to pay child support.

Source: findlaw.com "Enforcement of Child Support: FAQs," AccessedSept. 8, 2015

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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