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What Happens When Child Support Is Not Paid?

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Posted By Cohen Family Law | January 12 2022 | Uncategorized

Child support is a court-ordered agreement where one parent has to pay the other for childcare expenses after a divorce or legal separation. If the parent who is ordered to pay child support fails to do so, there are reparations available to the recipient. If you need assistance with your ex-spouse not paying child support, contact a family law attorney in Washington for advice.

How Do You Report Someone for Not Paying Child Support?

It is important to obtain an official child support order from the court after splitting up with the parent of your child. Having an informal agreement with your ex will make it impossible to enforce the order, as the courts and state agencies will not have legal authority over the agreement. If your ex-spouse is legally obligated to pay you child support with a court order, on the other hand, there are steps that you can take to have an authority enforce the court order for you.

If the noncustodial parent is not paying child support in Washington (the parent has become delinquent in making payments), report it to the Department of Child Support (DCS) right away. Give the DCS any information that can help them, such as a copy of your child support order and your ex-spouse’s most recent address, employer, rate of pay, and Social Security number. If you wish to sue the other parent for contempt of court, contact a child support attorney for assistance with the legal process.

How Does DCS Enforce a Child Support Order?

Washington State Legislature allows the DCS to intervene and enforce a child support order under certain circumstances. The DCS can take collection actions against a parent even if he or she has not missed a payment to collect support that a parent is threatening to withhold. Their services are free. The DCS has the authority to take the following actions any time, without further notice to the paying parent:

  • Send the noncustodial parent’s employer an Income Withholding for Support or Order to Withhold and Deliver form to collect current or past-due child support.
  • File liens or seize assets owned by the noncustodial parent – including vehicles, real estate or other personal property – to collect on past-due child support.
  • Ask licensing authorities not to renew (or to suspend) the noncustodial parent’s licenses, including driver’s, fishing and occupational licenses.
  • Attach the nonpaying spouse’s bank accounts or refer the case to credit reporting agencies.
  • Give the case to the federal government to take past-due child support payments from any income tax refunds or other payments.
  • Turn the case over to a private collection agency, Prosecuting Attorney, U.S. Attorney or any other agencies, as needed.

The DCS may take any other withholding actions that are necessary to collect on past due or current child support payments, as well. The DCS may also send notices to enforce a parent’s health insurance obligations. Note that if the nonpaying spouse is an employee of an Indian tribe, Indian-owned business or tribally owned business on a reservation, the DCS will ask the tribal court to enforce a notice instead of taking the above-mentioned actions.

Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support in Washington?

Yes. A child support court order is a legal obligation. If a person fails to pay child support for an extended period of time, criminal charges may be brought against them. Once the parent’s delinquency has been reported, a prosecutor may choose to bring charges against the parent for being in contempt of court. 

If the courts decide that the noncustodial parent could pay some or all of the order but failed to do so for an extended time, this can lead to penalties such as driver’s license suspension, fines, and even jail time. Failing to pay child support can be a misdemeanor or felony in Washington. For more information about child custody enforcement in Washington, contact an attorney.

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