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Enforcement of Child Support Orders

Child support is necessary for many families in order to meet the needs of the child after the separation and/or divorce of the parents. The financially dependent parent can apply for child support at the county Domestic Relations office. After a conference, an Order of Court will be entered determining the amount of support that is to be paid from one parent to the other to ensure that both parents have sufficient resources to care for the minor child.

In some cases, however, the “obligor” (the parent that is ordered to pay child support to the other parent) does not comply with the support order and does not pay the court ordered support obligation. The receiving parent can enforce the child support order by filing a petition for contempt with the Domestic Relations office. Sometimes the Domestic Relations office will initial contempt proceedings if they are aware that the obligor is not complying with the Order.

The process becomes more involved and the penalties become more severe depending on the length of time that the obligor remains non-compliant. Initially, the obligor will be scheduled to return to Domestic Relations for an “Enforcement Conference” in an attempt to try to work with the obligor and find ways to ensure his or her compliance. If that is not successful, then the obligor will be scheduled to go in front of a Judge for Contempt proceedings. If the obligor does not attend the hearing, the Judge can issue a bench warrant to have him or her arrested and brought to court to face the Judge for the contempt proceedings.

If the obligor is found to be in contempt of the support order, he or she can be sentenced to up to 6 months in prison. If they pay the “purge” amount (a significant portion of the back due support obligation), however, they can typically avoid incarceration. If the obligor is unemployed, the Judge can order the obligor to find a job within a certain period of time, or to attend job fairs to assist in the job search efforts. Other consequences of contempt can include fines of up to $500, seizure of bank accounts, interception of Federal Income Tax returns, suspension of driver’s, occupational and recreational licenses, passport denial, interception of lottery winnings, and reporting to credit bureaus, etc.

If you are looking for assistance in enforcing an Order for child support, or if you need help in defending an enforcement action, the attorneys at Tanner Law Offices can help. Please call our office at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. We can be reached at 717-836-0471.