Enforcing Child Support Orders

Local child support agencies monitor cases to ensure court orders are being obeyed. If the court order is not being followed, the agency will take action. Cases to collect past-due support may be opened up to 20 years after the youngest child on the court order reaches the age of 18.

To use staff time and resources most efficiently and effectively, child support agencies use their experience to choose which actions they take and when. For instance, they may write warning letters before they take a more drastic action. Some enforcement actions require due process and/or a court action.

Enforcement Actions Taken by Child Support Agencies

Child support agencies have many tools to help them enforce child support orders. Some actions such as implementing income withholding are automatic by law, and take effect as soon as a court order for support is issued. Other actions are taken on a case by case basis. When a parent owes past-due support interest is charged on the past-due amount and income withholding can be increased without a court action. Agreeing to and following a payment plan will prevent some, but not all, enforcement measures.

The following actions are taken automatically by law when the amount of past-due support reaches a certain level:

The following actions are taken on a case by case basis:

Paying Parents: To avoid accumulating past-due support if your income decreases, please contact your child support agency. They can help. Click here for more information.

Additional Questions Parents ask About Enforcing a Child Support Order


Updated June 22, 2012

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