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How to Enforce a Child Support Order

What Can Be Done About Deadbeat Parents?

Going through a divorce is a difficult experience, and once a settlement agreement is in place, many individuals have an opportunity to move on with their lives. In some cases, however, the battle may continue, particularly when a parent fails to pay child support. If you find yourself dealing with an ex-spouse who fails or refuses to make child support payments, you have powerful legal recourse to enforce the child support order.


In making child support determinations in Massachusetts, the courts consider a number of factors, including the gross monthly income of each parent, the number of children involved, as well the health, medical, educational and other childcare costs.

The child support order generally requires that these payments to be made on a monthly basis until the child becomes an adult. While this sounds straightforward, issues of child support can become contentious. However, an experienced divorce attorney can help negotiate an agreement that is in the best interests of the child.


What happens when a parent fails to the required monthly payments, or stops making payments entirely?

Once again, a divorce attorney can step in and file a document with the court known as an Order to Show Cause. The court will then conduct a hearing, and the deadbeat parent must explain why payments have not been made. If the court finds the child support order was violated without cause, it will typically order the payments to be deducted from the non-paying parents paycheck.

For repeat offenders, the courts may also take more drastic action such as garnishing wages, seizing bank accounts, and placing liens on real property. Lastly, if the court finds that a deadbeat parent has willfully disobeyed a child support order he or she may be found in contempt of court and possibly face jail time and fines. However, the courts rarely take this step since jailing non-paying parents means they will not be able to work and make the money needed to make the payments.

The Bottom Line

All parents have an obligation to provide for the well-being of their children, and those who violate child support orders must be held accountable. If you’re ex-spouse is not meeting this obligation, you should engage the services of a dedicated child support attorney.


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