Being owed back child support can be frustrating. Despite repeated conversations, the non-custodial parent seems to disregard the child support order. Perhaps this adult just lost a job and is trying to make ends meet or is just being spiteful due to being denied custody of the child. Whatever the case, help is available from several sources.
Custodial parents should be aware of their child support rights and take steps to enforce them in a timely manner. Some states impose a statute of limitations regarding the time in which past-due child support may be collected. If the custodial parent and non-custodial parent live in different states, the statute of limitations is the longer of the two times stipulated in each state law.
Most states require child support orders to be registered with the state child support enforcement agency. Within the Administration for Children and Families division of Health and Human Services, the Office of Child-Support Enforcement (OCSE) assists state governmental agencies with the operation and management of their programs. OCSE and Fiscal Service collaborate to implement the provisions of this act and Executive Order 13109—Supporting Families: Collecting Delinquent Child Support Obligations.
If a parent falls behind with child support payments, some states increase the amount of money withheld from paychecks to include the current payment due plus a portion of delinquent child support. This may happen automatically or a lawyer for child support may file a court motion on behalf of the custodial parent to request it. However, a parent may voluntarily waive the requirement and some parents do not receive paychecks because they are unemployed or self-employed.
The Department of Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service) implements a centralized Treasury Offset Program. Under this, federal tax refunds and certain other federal payments may be offset to collect back child support. When the child support order is registered with the state enforcement agency, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to do this after initially notifying the non-custodial parent. A state child support enforcement agency may withhold state income tax refunds.
At the state level, a child support agency may place a lien on personal property owned by a parent whose child support payments are past due. An agency is also permitted to freeze the bank accounts of the parent and take the past-due balance to pay the custodial parent. A lawyer for child support can help a custodial parent pursue each of these options.