Collection of Child Support is often difficult, but government, State and Federal, wants payment to be made and has provided a large amount of help. If a parent does not pay child support, he or she is subject to enforcement measures to collect regular and past-due payments.
Prior to 2006, there was a three year statute of limitations for collecting on a judgment for child support arrears. The statute of limitations for collection of child support was eliminated in 2006. The following are some of the enforcement measures for collecting past due child support.
• Passport Restrictions: Passport applications may be denied by the U.S. State Department. Presently, Federal law prohibits the issuance or renewal of a U.S. passport to anyone with child support arrears of $2,500.00 or more and allows the government to revoke or limit previously issued passports to such individuals.
• Driver’s License Suspension: A valid, active Arizona license may be suspended if a parent willfully fails to pay child support for six months or more. This means the parent cannot be issued a new license or renew an existing license until the past due child support is paid in full or a satisfactory payment agreement has been reached.
• Suspension of Professional or Occupational License: A parent can also have his or her professional license or occupational license revoked or suspended if the parent deliberately has not paid child support for over six months.
• Liens on Property: A lien may be placed on a parent’s property, including houses and vehicles when a parent fails to pay child support. When property has a child support lien, potential buyers, title companies and lenders can find that a lien exists on the property. The lien remains on the property until the amount owed is paid. The lien applies to property that is owned at the time the lien is recorded and to all property that may be acquired at a later time.
• Wage Garnishment: Parents who owe back child support may be subject to wage garnishments. The court can order an employer to withhold a certain percentage of an employee’s paycheck each pay period to meet his or her child support obligations.
• Bank Account Garnishment: Parents who owe back child support risk having their bank accounts or investments garnished in order to pay for past due child support.
• Intercepting Other Sources of Income: In addition to having his or her wages garnished, a parent who fails to pay child support is subject to having his or her tax refunds, lottery winnings, unemployment funds or workers’ compensation intercepted to pay the unpaid child support
• Retirement Accounts: Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) may be used to obtain past due child support payments from a parent’s retirement account. If a QDRO gets properly entered by the Court and submitted to a parent’s employer, there is nothing that that parent can do to prevent the funds from coming out of his or her retirement plan.
• Contempt Proceedings: A parent can be held in contempt of court for failure to pay child support, and may be ordered to serve jail time. In order to hold a parent in contempt of a child support order, the Court must find that the parent has the ability to pay child support but willfully failed to pay.