4 Important Enforcement of Child Support FAQ

Enforcement of child support

As many divorced parents will learn, there can be a big difference between having a court order your ex to pay child support and actually getting that money into your pocket. Your ex could simply refuse to pay, and it can be complicated to figure out your options for getting paid. It can also be hard to be the spouse ordered to pay and facing a disagreement over what you need to pay.  

Here are some important enforcement of child support FAQ –  

1. How can Child Support be enforced?

State and federal laws provide numerous ways for parents to collect unpaid child support.  Consider the options offered in Virginia, as a fairly typical example. The state will help parents garnish wages, put liens on property like a home, intercept income tax refunds, or even put non paying parents in jail.  A lawyer can help evaluate these steps.  

2. Do parents have to pay even if they cannot see their kids?

Yes.  Orders for child support and custody or visitation are different.  Sometimes, in an ugly divorce, a parent may be prevented from seeing his or her children.  Sometimes an older child will blame one parent for breaking up the family and will refuse to speak to that parent.  Other times, one parent will cut off contact with the other parent. In cases of abuse, a parent may be ordered by a court not to have contact with his or her children.  This usually does not matter for child support, though.  

Child support and custody or visitation are all usually settled at the time of divorce (or early in a child’s life for an unmarried couple), and over time the parties may break some obligations. If one parent breaks an obligation by refusing to allow visitation, that usually will not change the child support obligation. So the parent under a child support payment order should continue to pay the required support and seek to enforce the custody arrangement separately.   

Paying child support is non negotiable

3. Can a parent escape Child Support through bankruptcy?

No.  Bankruptcy allows Americans in dire straits to either reduce or eliminate most of their debts so they can start over with a clean slate.  Some debts are protected from bankruptcy proceedings, though.  

Longstanding federal bankruptcy law says that child support obligations cannot be discharged in bankruptcy because Congress did not want parents to use bankruptcy as a vehicle for avoiding the payment of child support obligations.  

4. Does Child Support change if one parent gets fired or promoted?

Child support can go on for a long time, and it is rare for two peoples’ financial situations to remain unchanged over the two decades that the child support is enforced for. In most states, the required amount of child support is calculated through formula guidelines that are heavily based on each parent’s income.  

When income changes dramatically, for example, one parent loses his or her job, the payments can usually be adjusted. It varies from state to start how hard it is to get an adjustment.

In North Carolina, for example, each parent is entitled to a review of the support amount every three years. Other changes require a substantial change in circumstances.  In Texas the order can be reviewed every three years if there has been a substantial change or any time the award amount is 20% off from what would be awarded under the guidelines. Some states, like New York, allow automatic adjustments for the cost of living.  

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