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Options to Collect Unpaid Child Support

Raising a child takes a considerable amount of time and money, and divorced parents are often trying to find a way to provide for their children with fewer resources. The parent with primary responsibility for childcare duties will inevitably have to shoulder a larger portion of the daily expenses for the child and will require child support from the other parent to ensure the child’s needs are met. Unfortunately, not all parents want to pay this ongoing obligation, and will go to great lengths to avoid it. The parent with primary custody has options to enforce a standing child support order, which should be done as soon as arrears start to accrue. The longer a parent waits to address the situation, the harder it will be to collect the overdue amount. Even if there is a dispute, the parent responsible for child support will usually accept that he/she has to pay and get current on the child support. Not all parents take this route, and in extreme cases, some turn violent. The recent murder trial of Kirk Zimmerman was based on the premise that killing his ex-wife was motivated by a desire to avoid paying overdue child support. This example should not deter parents from pursuing back child support but does serve as an example of the conflict this issue can produce. A discussion of the options a parent has to enforce child support obligations will follow below.

Income Withholding Orders

The baseline method to enforce child support, which is a standard feature of most child support orders, is an income withholding order that directs the payor parent’s employer to automatically deduct the required amount and submit the funds to the child support office for processing and distribution. This order can be amended by a court, or through the Child Support Division, to authorize additional deductions for delinquencies, and violating these orders can bring serious consequences.


Since child support is court-ordered, the parent receiving support has the right to file a motion for contempt if it is not being followed. The court can use this motion to require the parent to appear in court and explain why the money is not being paid. To compel compliance, judges can condition the jail time on the delinquent parent’s payment of some or all of the arrears.

Liens and Judgments

The Child Support Division can place liens on the payor parent’s registered vehicle, which restricts his or her ability to sell it until the child support payments are current. Courts can also issue liens against other personal and real property, as well as money judgments, which allow the seizure of assets to satisfy the debt.

Tax Interception

The State has the authority to intercept State and federal tax refunds and lottery winnings for the purpose of covering overdue child support.

License Suspension

Finally, parents who are three months or $2,000 behind in child support payments could find their professional and driver’s licenses suspended by the Child Support Division. To avoid this penalty, the payor parent would need to make arrangements to settle the arrears, start complying with the income withholding order, and request a hearing within 20 days. The suspension of these licenses could impact employment and can be an important tool in enforcing this obligation.

Get Help from an Indiana Family Law Attorney

Unpaid child support payments are a big issue that cannot be ignored without dire consequences. If you are struggling to receive regular payments from your ex, talk to Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. about taking action to address the situation. You should not have to struggle to support your child alone, and this Danville family law firm is here to help. Contact the office at (317) 745-4494 to schedule an appointment.

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