Show Me the Money – Child Support Enforcement
One frequently asked question is “How do I go about collecting court ordered child support? My ex refuses to comply with court orders and is late with the child support.”
It can be very frustrating when you do not receive the support for your children that the court ordered to be paid. There are steps that can be taken to try and collect child support. The person responsible for paying child support is known as the payor. The recipient of the child support on behalf of the child/ren is known as the payee. On your behalf as the payee, your attorney can request the Court to order that support payments be garnished; that is, that the child support be deducted from the salary of the payor. Counsel would then contact the Probation Department and set up an account on your behalf in order for the garnishment to go into effect. You would be provided a case number and could access a report of your case showing a payment history via the Internet.
The Probation Department would be provided with the name and address of both the payee and the payor as well as the name and address of the payor’s employer, the names and ages of the children for whom the support is ordered, and a copy of the Court Order setting forth the support obligation. Once this information is presented to the Probation Department, the payor’s employer would be notified to deduct the court ordered child support and forward it to the Probation Department.
Because of the volume of cases handled by the Probation Department, things do not move as quickly as one might like. It could take between 4 to 6 weeks after contacting the Probation Department before you would receive a check reflecting the garnishment from the payor’s wages.
If you do not know where the payor works, or if the payor is unemployed, it is a bit more difficult to enforce the support order. If the payor is in arrears, on your behalf, your attorney would file a notice of motion to enforce the support order. The Court is then advised of the payment history of the payor and the amount of the support arrearage.
A copy of a Motion for Enforcement is served upon the payor which advises him/her of the return date this matter will be heard by the Court. The payor has an opportunity to respond to your request for enforcement. Often times, when an application is made to the Court for either an increase in support, or enforcement, the payor files a motion to decrease support. The basis for the decrease may be that he/she is unemployed or is earning less money than he/she was earning when the original support order was entered.
Upon the return date of the Motion, the Court determines whether or not the payor has the ability to pay the outstanding arrearage. If the Court finds that there is an ability to pay, the Court has various options. An order may be entered requiring the payor to pay a lump sum immediately plus an additional amount each week to be applied towards the arrearage. If the arrearage is substantial, and if it appears the payor has no reason for his/her failure to pay support, the Court can order the payor be incarcerated until the support is paid. Another means of encouraging a payor to pay support is to take away his/her driver’s license or professional license.