Skip to main content

Enforcing child support by contempt

A willful failure to pay child support can result in being held in contempt of court for disobeying the child support order, and may even lead to jail time.

Michaila Oliveira | Apr 19, 2017

New Hampshire Children Support Enforcement

What Do You Do When the Other Parent Refuses to Pay Their Court-Ordered Child Support? Sometimes this can be avoided altogether by getting a wage assignment. However, if there is no wage assignment, or the individual is self-employed, the first step would typically be to file a Motion for Contempt. The court can issue various sanctions, including ordering jail time, to enforce the child support orders. If Your Ex Moves to Another State, Will They Still Have to Pay Their Ordered Child Support? To address the problem of parents moving out of state and then refusing to pay their court-ordered child support, Congress passed the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This law outlines what you can do to collect your child support from your ex in their new state. If New Hampshire has jurisdiction over your ex, you can seek to enforce your child support order through the courts here with the help of a Manchester divorce lawyer. If New Hampshire lacks jurisdiction over your ex, you can request that the court send copies of your child support order to the court in the jurisdiction in which your ex lives. You would then request that that court enforce the child support order. You can also travel to the state and personally file an enforcement action with the court or send a copy of your child support order to your ex's employer to request a wage garnishment. Failing to pay child support to a parent in another state is treated seriously, and in 1998, Congress passed the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, which makes it a felony for a parent to do so. What if Your Ex Has Simply Fallen Behind in Payments? If your ex has fallen behind in their child support payments to you, courts treat it seriously. The court will still enforce your child support order and seek the arrearage amount owed to you. Even if your ex has sought and received a reduction in their child support payments, the reduction is not applied retroactively, and they will generally be ordered to pay you the back child support owed in full. What Happens If You Are Paying Child Support and You Lose Your Job? If you lose your job and are paying child support, it is important that you seek legal help quickly. The child support order will still be in effect and the payment amounts will continue to accumulate. The child support will not simply disappear when your job ends. You can file a motion to modify your child support amount with the court. Such an order would modify payments going forward (most typically from the date your ex is served with notice of the request for modification), not any arrearages. Accordingly, you should not delay in filing the request for modification and Manchester divorce lawyer at Manning & Zimmerman Law can help you with that process. Can You Discharge Child Support Arrearage Amounts through Bankruptcy? While many different types of unsecured debts can be discharged in bankruptcy, federal bankruptcy law specifically forbids discharging back-owed child support through such a bankruptcy petition. Since child support is meant to provide for the support of children, discharging it in bankruptcy would be contrary to public policy and is simply not allowed. Again, if you've had a substantial change in your financial circumstances, you can petition the court for a reduction of your payment amount, but your child support will not just simply go away or be discharged in any bankruptcy petition. If Divorced or Separated Some Time Ago, Will You Be Able to Get a Retroactive Child Support Order? Child support orders generally are not retroactive before the filing date (there are some exceptions for infants). In the process of a divorce, the court will order child support and will have discretion in determining when the support is ordered to start. What If You're Still Married and Your Spouse Won't Give You Enough to Provide for Your Children? If you are still married and living with your spouse, it is unlikely that a court will order your spouse to pay you child support. If you are married but living separately and are not receiving child support, you can file a motion for child support from your spouse. There have been a few rare cases across the country in which courts have ordered a spouse to provide financial support for their children when they are still married and living with their spouse, but such cases have had exceptional circumstances. What If Your Ex Claims You Are in Arrears, But You Have Always Paid Them in Full and On Time? If your ex has claimed that you are in arrears in paying your child support, it will be your burden to prove that you have made the payments, and if you are unable to prove it, you will be ordered to pay the arrearage amount claimed. This is why it is extremely important that you pay in the manner outlined in your child support order. If you are told to make your payment to the court, do so and do not make your payment directly to your ex. If you are ordered to make payments directly to your ex, never do so in cash and instead use a check or money order. Always require a receipt for your payment and save it. If your ex does claim an arrearage, you will still have to present evidence of your payments to the court, including bank records, receipts, check copies, and witnesses if needed. Does Shared Parenting Time Mean No Child Support? Shared parenting time is not in and of itself a reason for a reduction in child support. The court can still order the higher-earning parent to make child support payments to the lower-earning one. If you have your child half of the time and you didn't before, your amount might be reduced depending on the circumstances of your case. Do You Have to Pay Child Support If Your Ex Won't Let You See Your Child? Child support and parenting time are considered to be separate issues. Even if your ex is refusing to let you see your child, you are still legally responsible for making your child support payments as ordered. If your child's other parent is actively preventing you from seeing your child, you can file a motion with the court to modify the orders or to hold the other parent in contempt if they fail to comply. Courts generally believe that it is in a child's best interests to have liberal contact with both parents, and as such, judges do not like it when one parent actively prevents a child from having a relationship with the other parent. However, even if that is occurring, you must still continue paying your child support as ordered and seek relief for visitation and custody of your child through the court. Never withhold child support just because your ex is keeping your child away from you. It can be very frustrating to have to go through issues with your child support, and you may need to seek legal help from a Manchester divorce lawyer to solve the problems you are having with child support enforcement. Parents who are owed child support and their ex has either fallen behind or is refusing to pay can get help to enforce an order and collect both future child support payments on an ongoing basis as well as any amount owed in arrearage. What Are Support Modifications and Contempt Motions? If you are a parent who is ordered to pay child support and you have suffered a significant change in your financial circumstances, you may need help to file a motion to modify your ordered amount with the court. If you have made all of your payments and your ex has filed a frivolous claim with the court claiming that you have not, a Manchester divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can help you gather the evidence of your payments and present them to the court. Finally, if your ex is wrongfully withholding your child from you, an attorney can file a motion to hold the parent in contempt, or if you do not have a current custody and visitation order, a petition for custody or visitation on your behalf. It is important for you to continue making your child support payments as ordered even while any legal action is pending. Contact an Experienced Manchester Divorce Lawyer To schedule a free consultation with a Manchester divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, call (603) 239-2315, email us at [email protected], or contact us by using the "contact us" form or chat feature on our website.

Molly S. Rosenblum | Aug 19, 2015

How to Enforce A Child Support Order

Contempt of Court Contempt of court cases usually occur when a party is aware of an existing support order but simply refuses to follow it. In order to find someone in contempt, the burden of proving the contempt lies with the party making the charge of contempt and the burden is high. Contempt of court cases usually occur when one party simply refuses to pay child support or spousal support despite the available means to do so. Rarely do these cases end in jail time for the offending party; but there is a risk if the contempt is egregious. Fines are usually the result of a contempt of court case. Wage Assignment A wage assignment means that the offending party's employer must pay the other party directly instead of relying on the offending party to make the payment. Usually, wage assignment are available either by stipulation or if the offending party has fallen 30 days behind in making payments. Writs A writ of execution allows the non-offending party to liquidate the offending party's assets in order to satisfy a judgment or court obligation. A writ of seizure can be executed against property as well as bank and deposit accounts in order to satisfy past-due support payments Arrears Arrears is the amount of money due and owing on a support obligation. For example, if wife is ordered to pay husband $500 a month for child support and fails to do so for 3 months, wife is in arrears $1,500 to husband. Usually, arrears are established by a motion filed with the court along with a schedule of arrears showing how much was owed each month and how much was paid. The delinquent party may dispute the arrears amount by filing an opposition and offering proof of payment or an explanation as to why payment has not been made. If arrears are established, the Court may requirement payment of the entire amount in full or allow the offending party to make payments over time. Arrears may also be subject to penalties and interest.

Joseph Robert Kennedy | May 9, 2015

Tips for Payers to Avoid Problems with Child Support

1. Keep Your Orders Current with Your Income When your child support order is entered, it is based on a percentage of your income at that time if you're working. If your earnings decrease due to a change or loss in employment, that's a basis to reduce the amount of your support order. This does not happen automatically , though. There's no omniscient entity working at your local child support agency adjusting your orders as your financial circumstances change. It is your responsibility to start the paperwork and request a hearing to lower the support order. For any period of time before you do this, you can still be held accountable for payment under the previous, higher support order. Keep Your Orders Current with the Placement Circumstances Often a parent ordered to pay support will then care for the child(ren) more time than what was contemplated as part of the support order. The amount of time the child(ren) is with each parent can affect the amount of support ordered. If a change has occurred here, take steps to have the placement orders updated so child support can be adjusted accordingly. Make Your Payments to the Right Source Your court order for child support is tracked and accounted for by the State of Wisconsin through local child support agencies. These agencies have no knowledge of payments you give directly to the other parent for child support. Thus , you receive no credit and it is as though you missed the payment. The best option is always to funnel payments through the state trust fund. If you make a direct payment to the other parent, do it in a method that is traceable and have that parent confirm the payment so your records with the state can be adjusted to reflect the payment. Handing the other parent cash for child support is never advisable. Read Your Orders When you go to court and receive an order to pay support, you are responsible for not only what is stated orally by the court, but all the statutory requirements in the fine print at the end of your order about providing notice of change in employment and income. Saying you did not read the entire order may not save you if you have to go to court on a contempt action for failure to comply with Wisconsin laws. Keep Your Records and Keep Them Organized On occasion, there may be mistakes in your payment orders/records kept by child support agency and you may have to contact them about it. You need to keep in mind child support agencies across the state are heavily overburdened bureaucratic bodies. And similar to dealing with all government bodies of this nature, if you can quickly present your issue with accompanying documentation, your issue can probably be fixed. Conversely, if you come to them with just an issue but are unprepared and disorganized, don't expect to get the issue fixed any time soon if at all. When in Doubt, Talk to an Attorney And that means an attorney for YOU - not a representative from a child support agency. A recurring theme I see when parents consult with me about a child support issue is that the issue has existed for some time, and they are just now contacting an attorney once its gotten to the level of contempt of court, a complete inability to make payments, or sometime criminal charges (yes, failure to pay support for a prolonged period can be charged criminally as a felony). The tragedy of this situation is the trouble they find themselves in could have been mitigated or avoided altogether had they just been proactive, discussed the issue with an attorney earlier, and then taken easy actions.

Mildred N. Phillips | Jan 9, 2015

Common Custody and Child Support Questions

What does it mean to have sole custody of my child? Sole custody means that you are the parent who has both physical custody and legal custody of the child. This means that the child would live with you and you would be the only parent making decisions regarding the child's upbringing and welfare--the school that the child would go to, his (her) medical needs, social activities, etc. You would not need the other parent's consent before you can make decisions for the child. Is sole custody the same thing as full or complete custody? Yes. Sole or full or complete custody means that you have both physical custody and legal custody of the child; that the child lives with you and you are the only parent who would make decisions regarding the child's upbringing and welfare--the school the child would go to, his (her) medical needs, social activities, etc. You would not need the other parent's consent before you can make decisions for the child. What does it mean when the Court issues an Order for sole physical custody and joint legal custody? It means that the child would live with one parent, but both parents would have equal say on the child's upbringing--how the child is raised; the school the child goes to, her medical needs, etc. Both parents must agree to medical treatment, but a parent can make medical decision for the child in case of emergency without consulting the other parent, but must inform the other parent of the decision after the medical emergency has been dealt with. Can I just reduce the amount of my Child Support payments without going to Court if my ex and I have agreed on the reduced amount? No, you cannot. Only a Court can modify a Child Support Order. Until the Order is modified, you are legally responsible for the original amount. Also, your ex can change her (his) mind and file Complaint for Contempt against you for not paying the amount ordered by the Court. So, it is always prudent to file Complaint for Modification of the Support and get approval of the Court before reducing your support payments even if you and your ex have come to an agreement on a reduced amount. Can I stop paying Child Support if I lose my job without going to Court first? No, you cannot. You must get the permission of the Court to suspend your Child Support payments because of your job loss by filing Complaint for Modification of Child Support. The Court may not specifically grant your request, but may instead order you to pay a nominal amount until you have found a new job. You have obligation to support your child or children even if you do not have a job. Do I stop making my Child Support payments if I give custody of the children to my ex without Court approval? No. Until the Court approves your arrangement, you would still be responsible for making Child Support payments to your ex. So, it is imperative that when you agree to change custody that you obtain the approval of the Court to avoid making Child Support payments to your ex who no longer has custody of the children. You must also include the change in Child Support obligation as part of the custody arrangement. Can I leave town with the children without telling my spouse if there is no custody Order? Yes, you can, but the better thing would be to let the other parent know, if there is no issue of domestic violence. Until there is a custody Order, both parents have equal custody of the children. You are not going to be charged with breaking any law since there is no custody Order in place. Can I be charged with parental kidnapping if I leave town without telling my husband if there is no custody Order? No, you cannot be charged with parental kidnapping because both parents have equal custody until the Court has issued a custody Order. So, you can leave town without telling the other parent without getting into legal trouble. Does an unwed mother need the child's father consent before leaving the state with the child if there is no Court Order in place? No. The father has no rights until he has filed Complaint with the Court for Custody and Visitation rights. Until the Court has granted his request, the unwed mother has sole custody of the child and she does not have to obtain the father's consent before leaving the state with the child. Can I refuse to let the father have the child on his visitation days if the child says he does not want to go to his father's house? No, you cannot. You would be in Contempt of Court for interfering with the father's visitation rights as ordered by the Court. You may be put in jail until you comply. Also, you may be ordered by the Court to pay for the father's Court costs including his Attorney's fee for prosecuting the contempt action.

Justin Charles Valencia | Dec 17, 2014

Keep these Notions in Mind when Dealing with Child Support

How much is enough? Generally there are set child support guidelines that will be followed. The basic principle is that both parents have a duty to contribute to the support of their children in proportion to their respective net incomes. All sources are considered except public assistance and child support payments form a prior marriage. Net income excludes federal and state income taxes, social security deductions, health insurance, union dues, mandatory retirement, and child support of children of prior marriages or paternity cases. The child support is pro-rated to each parent. The total amount will of support will be deduced. The amount of support to be paid to the non-custodial parent is reduced depending upon the custodial parent's income. The amounts as determined are presumed to be appropriate unless evidence is presented to the contrary. Does the un-married father still have to pay child support? Generally, yes. Of course the mother will also have to help. If man denies he's the father then the mother can file a paternity suit. This is a closed process. A blood test or genetic test can be dispositive of the paternity. The alleged father will be properly notified of the paternity claim and court proceeding. His failure to respond or appear can result in paternity and child support being ordered. What are the basic rules? After one parent files a petition of a divorce decree, or after paternity has been legally established, there is a basis for a court order of child support. The parent's obligation to pay child support ends when the child reaches the age of majority. Child support may be terminated by the court if the child dies, enlists in the military or becomes emancipated. If there are two or more children, then the full amount as ordered needs to be paid, since it's unlikely to be broken down on a per-child basis. Any change in the child support payment must have a court order. The court order will tell the parent where payments must be rendered, usually through the clerk's office or through the Department of Health and Human Services. The non-custodial parent must make child support payments every month regardless of who has the children. If a parent has extended visitation for four weeks or more then the court may reduce the child support during that time, which must be in the decree. If it's not, then the non-custodial parent may ask the court for a temporary modification. If either parent can show that there has been a material change in his or her circumstances since the support was entered, and that it was not anticipated at the time of the divorce decree, then he or she may ask the court to increase or reduce the amount of child support. The decision will be based on the financial circumstances of both parties and the needs of the children. Medical bills and health insurance can be negotiated between the parents. What about past due child support? Past due payments become known as arrearage. Interest might be added. If no child support is paid, then the custodial parent can bring an action to enforce the decree. Usually the payment needs to be 30 days past due first. Several methods are available to collect past due child support. They include: garnishment of assets, wage withholding order, intercept IRS tax refunds, have automatic lien placed on real estate, or go through execution (take possession of and sell property), non-payor information sent to credit reporting agencies, and contempt of court proceedings which may include fines and/or jail time. Regardless of where that parent lives, locally or in another state, they can be forced to pay. Lastly, past due child support cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and declaring bankruptcy does not allow a parent to stop any future payment of court-ordered child support.

Judd S Nemiro | Sep 13, 2014

Child Support in Arizona

What are my child support obligations in Arizona? Child support is one of the most complicated areas of Arizona family law and only an experienced attorney can effectively guide you through all of the rules and regulations that will apply to your individual case. The courts always look to the best interests of the child, but there is also the financial reality of each parent that must be taken into account. You can be on the hook for substantial sums of money if you do not seek the most qualified legal counsel. Your child support obligations will depend on whether or not you are the non-custodial parent. That is, if you are the parent who does not have physical custody of the child, you will have to pay support to the other parent to support the care of your children. When determining how much child support you owe, the courts will look at some of the following factors: The age of the children. You may have to pay more to take care of older children because the courts presume that older children require more resources and are more expensive to care for. Your income level. If your income level is near or below the poverty line, it is possible to have your child support obligations reduced in order to allow you a basic standard of living. Your costs may be offset depending on how much time the children spend with you. For example, if the children spend 3 days per week under your care, the amount you have to pay to the custodial parent who cares for the children the other 4 days of the week may be reduced. If you have other children with a person other than the custodial parent, your obligations may be reduced because you are forced to pay support on all of your children. This will vary from case to case and depend on your income level. In some cases, children that require particularized care may require you to pay more in child support. For example, a child with a handicap or autism may require special medical care, therapy, supervision and other forms of "extraordinary" support. This is a very general overview and cannot substitute for the advice and guidance of a qualified family attorney who understands the Arizona Child Support Guidelines and how they are applied in the Superior Courts of the Phoenix and Scottsdale area. How will the courts in Maricopa County calculate how much child support I owe? There are child support "models" that are used to calculate child support. The prevailing model is the Income Shares Model although there have been proposed changes to the child support system. In 2011 the Child Outcome Bases Support Model was proposed. The proposed guidelines have not gone into effect yet, but if they eventually do, the transition period will be quite complicated and you will need the advice of an attorney who is well versed in both systems. Child support is already quite technical and the same could be said of any changes to the way support is calculated. The Income Shares Model makes several presumptions in order to calculate monthly child support obligations. The model assumes that the total amount of child support should, for the most part, provide the same level of spending on each child as would occur if both parents and the children were living together. In order to do this, each parent is required to provide a proportionate amount of financial support to the child. The family court will take the following steps to calculate child support: Determine the duration that child support will have to be paid. There is a big difference between paying child support for a child who is a toddler and one who is 16. Calculate the gross income of each parent Factor in adjustments to the gross income of each parent for things such as child support payments for children from other relationships, alimony and other forms of "spousal maintenance" Determine the adjusted gross income Calculate a "basic" child support obligation Factor in any special costs such as private school, health insurance, specialized medical care, and other special needs to determine a "total" child support obligation The State of Arizona provides several child support calculators that you can use to get a general idea of how much you will owe. However, those tools are very general and an attorney with experience in complicated family matters can help you calculate those obligations in light of any recent changes in the law or child support enforcement. What if I was never married to the other parent? In most cases, child support orders will be decided when the parents are filing for and carrying out their divorce. However, an increasing number of Arizonans are having children out of wedlock. In these cases, you will be filing for child support independently of any other legal proceedings. Once the application for support has been filed, the process for unmarried applicants is the same as it is for couples who are simultaneously getting divorced. What if my ex is not making their child support payments? If you are in a situation where the other parent is not paying their obligated amounts, it is understandable that you will be frustrated and stressed because you will be absorbing all of those costs to care for your children. A family law attorney can help you pursue those funds and pursue a claim with Arizona's Division of Child Support Enforcement. There are numerous options available to make the other party pay their child support obligations, including: Suspension of their driver's license Having their employer withhold funds from their paycheck Securing liens against their personal and real property Having their arrearage show up in background checks for employment or applications for other benefits Whether you are receiving child support or paying it, it is in your best interest to have the guidance of an experienced family attorney. Your children deserve nothing less than everything that is owed to them and your attorney should be a passionate advocate for those rights. Call attorney Judd Nemiro for a free consultation!

Jacob Iraj Kiani | Jan 27, 2014

The Basics of Los Angeles California Child Support Arrears Law

California Child Support Arrears Law Many Los Angeles residents are shocked to learn just how far the state and the county can go to collect back child support and make fathers and mothers pay what they owe. Whether you have always paid your child support on time and have recently fallen on hard times or were constantly struggle to pay, it is important to understand the penalties for falling into arrears. The consequences of finding yourself in arrears of a child support order in Los Angeles can be quite severe, but there are some things you can do to lessen the burden. License suspension One of the strongest tactics Los Angeles officials have at their disposal is license suspension. Parents who fall into arrears on their child support orders can have their licenses suspended until they pay. This obviously includes drivers licenses and many drivers have found that their licenses have been suspended. This is a serious problem in Los Angeles where getting to work or school without a car can be quite difficult. The license suspension provisions of the child support laws also extend to business and professional licenses, and that can cause an additional financial burden for parents who owe child support. Those who run their own businesses could find their licenses, and their livelihood, on hold until they pay the child support they owe. Those who need professional licenses to do their job, like hairstylists, barbers, used car dealers, and even lawyers, could find themselves unable to work until they rectify their child support issues. Accrued interest, Improper service, and What You Can Do Now Many parents who do rack up arrearages are shocked at not just the tactics used to collect a debt but the amount of the debt itself. Many well-meaning, but financially strapped parents, can keep careful track of the amount of child support they owe. Those parents often plan to pay that back child support when they receive their tax returns, bonuses from their jobs, and other financial windfalls. Unfortunately, however, those parents are often surprised when they checked the arrearages that have been accumulated. That is because once a California child support order goes into arrears, it begins to accumulate interest. The current interest rate on child support arrearages is a whopping 10%. That interest can add up fast causing the original amount to balloon and become even harder to repay. Interest calculations can be even more significant for child support arrearages that stretch back many years. A parent who has neglected to pay child support for 10 years would find the original amount had nearly doubled due to the ongoing accumulation of interest. The interest penalty is obviously designed to encourage the one-time payment of child support and discourage arrearages, but it can also end up causing a financial burden on parents who have not been able to pay for legitimate reasons. Improper service Those heavy interest penalties can also cause a problem for parents who received improper service regarding their arrearages. In legal terms improper service simply means that proper legal procedures were not followed with regard to notifying that individual about his or her child support obligations. In some cases the amount of child support ordered may have been unrealistic given the financial means of the individual. In other cases the order may have simply being incorrect, but whatever the reason, mistakes do happen and the Los Angeles child support system tends to make the consequences of those errors quite severe.Another problem can arise when one parent makes child support payments directly to the parents' custody of the child. Lawyers tend to discourage this type of informal arrangement - and for good reason. Many times parents receiving the payment fail to record it properly and fail to report it to the child support administrators. That can cause those authorities to report the parent in arrears, even though he or she has been making the payments all along. What can you do now? No matter how you got to this point, if you're facing a substantial obligation due to child support arrearages, it is important to follow the right steps. The child support system is complicated, and officials generally act in the best interest of the child involved. Those who feel that they were never properly notified of the child support obligation should contact an attorney who specializes in family law. A good attorney, knowledgeable in child support arrears issues, such as attorney Jacob Kiani at the Los Angeles Family Law Firm of Jacob I. Kiani, will be able to sort through the paperwork, court filings and other documents to determine whether or not the notification of child support payment obligations was proper. If the individual was never properly notified of his or her child support obligation, there are things that can be done to help the individual affected by this lack of notification of the child support payment obligation.

Lisa Ann Ruggieri | Oct 28, 2013

Same-Sex Couple: Court Rules on Support, Visitation and Child Custody Agreement

While the world has become much more accepting of same-sex couples, with many states including Massachusetts -- now allowing couples to legally marry, there are still many issues that have to be ironed out as a result. The split of one same-sex couple has left a judge to decide on child support and visitation as part of a child custody agreement. However, the issues brought up in this case could affect all -- not just same-sex -- couples. The case centers on the daughter of one of the members of the former couple. According to court records, both women raised the girl together while they were in a relationship. When the couple split, they both agreed that each woman would have an equal role in raising the child. However, two years after their split, the biological mother decided to restrict her former partner's role in the young girl's life. An initial ruling gave the non-biological woman some visitation and required her to pay approximately 17 percent of her income in child support. Both women were unhappy with the ruling, and both appealed. The next ruling stated that the court had no authority to require the non-biological parent to pay child support. However, the court does have the right to provide visitation to a person who has a parent-like relationship with a child, even if not related, if it feels it is in the best interest of the child. As even the biological mother admits her former partner has a parent-child relationship with the girl, the visitation rights remained. In any child custody case, it is important for both sides to consider the best interest of the child. Often it is difficult for former partners to separate their personal emotions from those surrounding their care of their child, but it is possible to do. Former partners in Massachusetts who have concerns surrounding visitation or custody have the right to have their case heard in a court of family law.