Child support payments provide foundational support for the overall well-being of children. They are a crucial method of ensuring that the custodial parent — along with the non-custodial parent are making an effort and appropriate contribution towards their child.
- Basic support
- Medical support
- Child care support
Basic support covers housing, food, clothing, education, transportation, and other basic-need expenses. Medical support is fairly self-explanatory, as it covers health and dental insurance costs and applies toward the health and wellness of a child. Child care support refers to the costs that parents incur for work and/or education-related child care.
While child support covers most, if not all, of the necessary costs of raising a child, it doesn’t cover everything. For example, most circumstances of child support do not cover extracurriculars like music lessons, sports, or other after-school activities. That being said, during the divorce agreement, certain expenses may be divided pertaining to these extracurriculars, in which case they would be grounds for compliance.
For the most part, parents have no problem following their orders to pay child support. However, there are certainly cases in which parents either neglect child support payments altogether or can’t keep up with them. Delinquency cases such as these face consequences and penalties.
The Various Stages of Delinquency Issues
Failing to make child support payments can be costly for both parents and the child. While penalties can rack up debts for non-paying parents, children can also suffer as they aren’t given adequate support to live a healthy, safe, or fair childhood.
The early stages of delinquency don’t typically face serious enforcement. It’s during this phase that conversations can be had, and understandings can be unearthed about the possible causes of failed payments. Addressing delinquency head-on can help mitigate further issues, especially during the early stages. It’s here that addressing missed payments is crucial before too many accumulate.
There are typically three reasons why a parent may miss a child support payment.
- A parent is unable to pay due to an isolated instance of financial instability and will have to pay arrears.
- A parent’s financial circumstance has dramatically changed, in which modifications of support or payment agreement may be necessary.
- The parent fails to take their child support obligations seriously and refuses to make contributions.
Further down the line, more aggressive action may be needed to gain access to court-ordered child support.
More Aggressive Action
When more informal action or attempts to receive child support payments are unsuccessful, more aggressive approaches are necessary. County attorneys and child support offices may need to be included to provide proper motivation and expedite the child support payment process.
Depending on how far into delinquency a parent is, child support policies typically allow for sufficient time to receive proper notice and make payments accordingly. A parent has the option to operate through paying the past due amount (arrears) or setting up a payment agreement. However, as stated, if a parent continually fails to provide child support payments — the child support office will be brought in to take enforcement action.
So, what type of enforcement action may be taken to prompt child support compliance? The Minnesota Department of Human Services states that some of these actions may include:
- Contempt proceedings for non-payment
- Interest charging
- Federal criminal prosecution
- Passport holds
- Driver’s, occupational, or recreational license suspension
- Credit bureau reporting
- Financial penalties such as asset seizure
- Student grant holds
These penalties depend on the level of delinquency along with other variables that may determine the severity of enforcement action.
Finding the Right Legal Support
Child support can be a difficult environment to navigate and is often fraught with emotional and financial roadblocks. While the child’s well-being and overall interest should be at the crux of every child support endeavor, it is sometimes lost in the turbulent relationship between the parents.
Finding legal support through experienced family law professionals is a necessity during this time. Lawyers and the courts often need to find fair and equitable child support resolutions that support both parties and the child/children.
If a parent is unable to make their child support payments, the problem can snowball quickly if it’s not dealt with straight away. So, for parties that find themselves in this predicament — it’s recommended that contact with the child support office or an attorney is made. This allows for time to create payment options to make legal reparations.
Parents that are having trouble receiving their child support payments are advised to take enforcement action. It’s a slippery slope to allow a former spouse too much leniency, as payments can pile up. Avoiding financial strain or hardship through fast action can help alleviate emotional and economic issues. Finding a family law practitioner with years of experience in child support can help get the ball rolling and payments in the door.