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What happens when child support is not paid?

Parents have the moral and legal obligation to make timely child support payments which help provide food, medical expenses and other necessities. Accordingly, Pennsylvania and federal laws impose penalties on a parent who fails to meet this responsibility.

Normally, child support is paid through court-ordered income withholding. Monthly support orders impose charges at the beginning of each month. Employers will take support payments out of a parent's paycheck following a court order. Support payment deductions can also come from unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, Social Security and pension payments.

But those are hardly the only means by which a child-support order can be enforced. For example, a county court Domestic Relations Section can order automatic wage withholding if a parent does not meet support obligations. Also, federal and state income tax refunds can be withheld to meet any late payments.

In addition, courts may order banks, credit unions and other financial institutions to turn over a parent's assets. Meanwhile, major credit bureaus will receive report identifying parents who are behind in payments and the amount they owe.

A court may also compel a parent to work or join an employment program while newspapers may publish the names of parents who are at least 30 days' delinquent.

Another option is to suspend a parent's licenses when a parent is three months delinquent and a court has not ordered income withholding. Government agencies can suspend a driver's license, commercial driver's license, and fishing or hunting license. License suspension can also restrict a parent's ability to engage in a profession or occupation.

Yet another mechanism is for the state o intercept payments in the form of workers' compensation, unemployment compensation and lottery winnings of at least $2,500.

Child support issues can be complicated and contentious. Prompt legal representation can help assure that the rights of parents and children are protected.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, "Pennsylvania child support handbook," Accessed June 13, 2016

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