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How can child support payment orders be legally enforced?

If a non-custodial parent is not in compliance with a child support order, the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration, a division of the state Department of Human Resources, has a variety of enforcement tools that it can use to obtain the funds. Before any of these aggressive measures are taken, however, the agency will work with the non-custodial parents to overcome any issues that may be preventing them from being able to make the payments.

Wage withholding is an enforcement tool that may be used to collect overdue child support payments as well as timely child support payments. After a non-custodial parent secures a new job, a wage withholding order may be sent to their employer. If back child support cannot be collected through wages, accounts at a financial institution where the non-custodial parent has assets may be subject to seizure.

Other measures that can be taken by the CSEA to enforce a child support order include property liens, lottery winning intercepts and asset seizure. A non-custodial parent could also be denied issuance of a passport and have their driver's license suspended. Around tax time, the CSEA may also collect back child support by intercepting a non-custodial parent's federal or state income tax refund check, depending upon the amount that is in arrears.

A parent who is facing wage garnishment or property liens because of unpaid child support may wish to seek a restructuring of the child support agreement. A family law attorney might be able to help the parent by gathering proof that the parent's basic living expenses cannot be met while the current child support order is in place. Because all situations are different, the foregoing information should not be construed as legal advice.

Source: Maryland Department of Human Resources, "Paternity Establishment", September 29, 2014

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