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All About Enforcing Child Support Orders
When a parent is ordered to pay child support, they are responsible for providing financial assistance and help to the other parent. This helps ensure that both parents can provide for their children equally and allows them to live comfortably during their growing years. But what happens if one parent isn’t paying?
Read on to learn more about enforcing child support during these situations.
Non-Custodial Parents’ Obligations
As a non-custodial parent, you have obligations to your children. In some states, these include:
- paying child support
- visiting your children regularly
- helping with school expenses and extracurricular activities
- helping with medical costs and other fees such as clothes and toys
Some states may require you to help pay for college tuition too.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support?
If you do not pay child support as ordered, you may be charged with contempt of court, which is a crime. You may also be arrested and sent to jail until the court decides that you will obey the order. You may have to pay all the money owed plus interest and attorney fees paid by the other parent or ordered by the judge.
The Importance of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity is important for two reasons. First, once paternity has been established, you may be eligible to receive child support from the non-custodial parent. Second, suppose you are not receiving child support payments but have a court order that requires the non-custodial parent to pay them. In that case, you can enforce (or take legal action to enforce) that court order by filing a motion with your local family court or circuit court of common pleas.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
The last thing we’ll talk about today is how to enforce child support orders if either party is not following them.
You might think this is easy—just go to your local courthouse and tell them what happened! But there’s actually more involved in enforcing child support orders than meets the eye.
How the Courts Calculate Child Support
When determining how much child support will be paid, the courts consider both parents’ incomes. The amount of child support is calculated as a percentage of the paying parent’s income and factored by the needs of each child in the household. Suppose there are multiple children in the home. In that case, their individual needs will also be considered—the total amount may be higher or lower than other children in similar circumstances, depending on their specific needs.
The court also considers whether either parent has custody of any other children outside of this family unit; if so, they’ll take that into account when calculating how much will be paid out each month to cover living expenses such as housing costs, food purchases, and school fees. In addition to considering these elements, there are additional considerations:
Costs of Enforcement Actions
The costs of enforcing a child support order vary depending on the specific action you take and the circumstances involved. Generally, though, the following expenses may be incurred:
- court filing fees. These are paid to file documents with the court when initiating enforcement actions.
- attorney fees. The attorney you hire can provide services relating to your case and will charge for those services accordingly (for example, hourly or flat fee rates).
- costs of service of process (or “Sheriff’s fees”). This is an additional amount charged by your county sheriff’s department for delivering summons that requires hand delivery by their deputies (instead of first-class mail). The fee varies by state but is typically between $10 and $15 per summons.
- collection/distribution costs if there is a judgment against someone who owes past due support payments—these are usually taken out in addition to any other fees listed here
Non-Custodial Parents’ Rights
As a non-custodial parent, you have the right to:
- a fair hearing. If you disagree with any decision or order made by a Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) representative, you may request a fair hearing within 10 days of receiving the notice of that decision or order. The CSEA must schedule this hearing within 30 days of your request.
- request modification of child support. If circumstances change such that it would be appropriate to modify your monthly obligation, you can request a modification at any time as long as both parents agree on how they want their new arrangement to work out.
- be notified of changes in your child’s medical insurance coverage and medical care providers. If your ex-spouse applies for public assistance benefits for health care coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid/SCHIP program, or State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), then they must notify both parents about these applications and provide them with copies of all related documents within 10 days after receiving them from these agencies
It is Essential to Know Your Rights in Regards to Child Support
As a non-custodial parent, you have rights, and you also have responsibilities. Knowing these rights and obligations and what they mean for your child’s well-being is essential.
You have the right to request an increase in child support payments if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the court issued the original child support order. You should be aware that even though you have this right, it does not mean that the court will automatically grant your request for an increased payment amount or add more time to your current order.
This means that whether or not you can enforce your rights depends on many variables, including who pays for health insurance, how much time each parent spends with their children, and if one parent has remarried after becoming divorced from their spouse (and therefore may now pay spousal support).
Enforcing Child Support Orders Can be Done
As you can see, there are several things to consider when enforcing child support orders. You may avoid some of these issues altogether by taking steps before any problems happen. Here at Koleilat Law, our family attorneys will help you through any issues you may have; contact us today to schedule a consultation.