The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

How To Get Child Support Payments

Whether a child is a biological relation to its parents or is adopted by them, he or she is entitled to monetary support. Usually, it is the responsibility of the non-custodial parent to provide child support. The penalties for not paying child support can be severe, so it is important to keep up with this obligation.

Court Ordered Child Support

Child support is often ordered by the judge in family court. The child support order may come about as the result of a divorce or child custody hearing. Typically, the custodial parent must file a petition for child support. The non-custodial parent may dispute the petition, but most courts take parental responsibility very seriously. This means that most non-custodial parents will be ordered, and therefore legally obligated, to make child support payments unless the custodial parent waives their right to such support.

Enforcing a Child Support Order

While the court may have made the non-custodial parent legally obligated to pay child support, many of these parents find ways to avoid the payments. Child Support Enforcement agencies in each state can help the custodial parent to track down the parent who owes them child support. Moreover, these agencies often employ attorneys who can represent the custodial parent in court and file the appropriate paperwork to ensure that child support payments are made.

Typical Enforcement Practices

The court may begin garnishing the wages of the non-custodial parent who is not making child support payments. This even works on unemployment benefits should the non-custodial parent not be working at the time. The parent who owes a great deal of back support payments and owns assets may find that this property, such as a home or a car, is seized to help cover the cost of child support.

Entrepreneurs or licensed professionals may be further penalized for refusing to pay. In some cases, business or professional licenses may be revoked for non-payment of child support. Courts are usually reluctant to take this drastic step, as the loss of a license seriously impairs the parent’s ability to earn money that could be used to pay child support.

Non-custodial parents who owe child support and are due to receive a federal or state tax refund may find that the money is seized to make back payments. Additional penalties may include the revocation of a driver’s license or refusal by the federal government to issue a passport.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Recent Child Custody & Support Articles