In most jurisdictions, a non-custodial parent is obligated to pay child support to the custodial parent when the parents no longer live together. Unfortunately, the parent obligated to pay support does not always pay according the court's order. There are, however, things that the parent who is owed delinquent child support can do to try and collect the support owed. Contacting the local child support enforcement agency is usually a viable option for collecting delinquent child support. Requesting a wage garnishment or tax return lien from the original court are also good tactics for collecting delinquent child support owed by a non-custodial parent.
Jurisdictions will vary with regard to what services they offer for child support enforcement and collection. Within the United States, most states have child support enforcement offices that are usually affiliated with the local prosecutor's office. Before contacting a child support enforcement agency, it is a good idea to gather as much information as possible about the person who owes the child support. For example, a current address, employment information, and even what type of vehicle he or she drives may be helpful, if available. Local child support enforcement agencies will generally help in situations where the amount of delinquent child support is over a certain dollar amount threshold.
If a local enforcement agency is unable to help, filing a motion for contempt of court with the original court may be another option. A child support order is an official order of the court, and failure to abide by the order can be considered contempt of court. Most courts will accept hand-written requests in child support cases. The motion should include specifics, such as the amount originally ordered, the amount paid to date, and a total amount of the arrears owed by the defendant.
Once before the court, a parent who is owed delinquent child support may ask the court to order a wage garnishment or tax return lien. A wage garnishment will order the defendant's employer to hold back a certain amount, or percentage, of his or her paycheck each pay period to be forwarded to the court. The court will then forward the funds to the parent who is owed the support. The court may also order that any future tax refund checks be paid directly to the parent owed the support.
Some jurisdictions will also order the suspension of a parent's driving privileges when he or she is behind on child support. Although this does not directly secure payment, many defendant's will quickly catch up the payments in order to get their privileges reinstated. Likewise, incarceration is often an option with a cash bond set for release of the defendant. Money from the bond is then sent to the parent who is owed the delinquent child support.