The Enforcement of Child Support

Child support payment is the one thing that is most often ignored postdivorce. Analysis of support has proven that the level of income does not influence the delinquency of payment. The resulting conclusion has shown that child support has become a power tool for the noncustodial parent. Quite often, this support delinquency is applied out of revenge or punishment directed to the custodial parent.

Precautionary measures the custodial parent and his or her attorney can take to protect against the possibility of delinquency include:

Friend of the Court
This organization is a publicly supported collection system which maintains vigilance over parents who are responsible for child support payments. The custodial parent never needs to file a complaint of payment delinquency. The payment check is sent to the Friend of the Court first, and immediately distributed to the custodial parent. This has proven to be the most effective form of deterrence, as the court always has an accurate and up-to-date record of the entire support process.

Automatic Wage Deduction
Under this method the noncustodial parent has the legally declared monthly support payment deducted from his or her paycheck and the amount is immediately sent to the custodial parent. This method has proven to be very effective for parents who have re-married or are cohabitating with someone new, because new spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends have been known to disrupt the payment process for their own selfish purposes.

Wage Withholding System
If one or more support payments have been missed or are overdue this system will withhold the noncustodial parent's wages or other income. The noncustodial parent is notified of this action, and cannot be relieved of the penalty unless a formal written agreement stating an alternate arrangement exists or a reasonable explanation of delinquency is delivered.

Bonds and Other Securities or Assets
Most states provide enforcement procedures that protect against delinquent payments by having the noncustodial parent post a bond or asset to secure payment when overdue.

Modification of Child Support Arrangements
Child support may be modified at any time in which there has been a drastic change in circumstances.
The party moving for modification must file an order with the court, showing evidence of the change in circumstances. Typically the evidence must be completely new to the court. Any issues addressed previously in the child support arrangements are not means for modification.

The court will consider changes in the following as grounds for modifying child support arrangements:

  •  parent's income and earning capacities
  • assets that are available for support
  • employee benefits of each parent
  • income of a new spouse or cohabitant
  • new family responsibilities of each spouse
  • increase in the cost of living
  • change in cost of rearing the child
  • heath conditions of parents and child
  • modification of custody arrangement