What Happens When A Parent Doesn't Pay Child Support?

By: LawInfo
When a parent does not meet the child support obligation, child support offices work to enforce the support order. Below is a list of some enforcement methods.

Credit bureau reporting
If a noncustodial parent owes at least $1,000 in past due child support, the child support office reports the delinquency to credit bureau agencies.

New hire reporting
Employers must report basic information about all their newly hired employees to the Minnesota New Hire Reporting Center. Employers must provide this information within 20 days of the day the employee starts work. Employers must also report when employees no longer work for them.

Each state`s child support computer system receives data provided through new hire reporting. Then child support office staff use the information to locate noncustodial parents and to establish or modify child support orders.

Driver`s license suspension
Driver`s licenses may be suspended for noncustodial parents who:


  • Are at least three months behind in paying their child support obligations
  • Are not in compliance with a payment plan
  • Before a driver`s license is suspended, the noncustodial parent is notified in writing.
  • The noncustodial parent then has 90 days to pay the past due balance in full or enter into a written payment plan with the child support office; otherwise, the license will be suspended.

Occupational license suspension
Noncustodial parents who are working in occupations that require a license from the state, county, or municipal board or agency (e.g., realtors, barbers, lawyers) may have their licenses suspended if they:


  • Are at least three months behind in paying their child support obligations
  • Are not in compliance with a payment plan

Noncustodial parents receive notice of a pending suspension and can request a hearing before the license is suspended.

Passport denial
Passport applications may be denied if noncustodial parents:


  • Are at least $5,000 past due in their child support obligations
  • Are not in compliance with a payment plan
  • The U.S. State Department reviews passport applicants to see if they owe past due child support.

Tax refund intercept
The child support office can collect past due child support from a noncustodial parent`s state income tax refund or property tax credit. It can also intercept federal income tax refunds and state lottery winnings.

Other income
If a noncustodial parent owes past due child support, the child support office may take periodic or lump sum payments the noncustodial parent receives from state or local agencies, including: reemployment insurance, workers` compensation, and lottery winnings. The child support office may also take assets held in financial institutions or in retirement funds.

Contempt of court
The court may find a noncustodial parent in contempt of court if the noncustodial parent has the ability to pay but is willfully not paying the child support obligations. This enforcement tool is used only when all others have failed.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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