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How can you collect past due child support?

At times, getting a child support case settled is only half the battle. Sometimes the parent who’s ordered to pay support doesn’t do so in full and on time.

So, what do you do if your child’s other parent is reluctant to meet their financial obligation?

1. Know where to start.

In Michigan, child support enforcement falls under the jurisdiction of the Friend of the Court in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The Friend of the Court can help you track down a parent who’s trying to remain out of sight and help you obtain the support you are due. Often, mere contact with the court is enough to convince a recalcitrant parent that the situation isn’t going to go away and it is easier to pay up.

2. Understand your options.

There are a number of different ways to collect past due support from an unwilling parent. These include:

  • Garnishing that parent’s paycheck directly through their employer
  • Offsetting their federal tax returns
  • Garnishing their workers’ compensation benefits or unemployment benefits
  • Putting a lien on any real property, including business property or business equipment

It’s a mistake to think that you’re powerless when your child’s other parent refuses to obey a court order.

3. Take the issue back to court.

If the initial attempts to collect the support you are due fail, you may have to resort to more aggressive methods. That usually means going back to court and asking the judge to punish the other parent for their refusal to pay by:

  • Suspending their driver’s license
  • Suspending their professional license
  • Revoking their passport so that they don’t attempt to leave the country
  • Issuing a “show cause” warrant to make that parent explain to the judge why support hasn’t been paid
  • Charging that parent with contempt of court and jailing them

Dealing with unpaid child support is more than just a financial drain on your resources — it can also be an emotional and physical drain. If you’re having trouble enforcing a child support order, an attorney can often help you.