There are many different ways you can enforce child support orders, and non-payment can lead to consequences. An Annapolis child support lawyer can help explain all of your options for child support enforcement or modification.
The State of Maryland naturally takes child support very seriously. When parents are not together, they both remain responsible for supporting their children financially, and this is why child support orders are put in place. When a parent chooses to ignore these orders, he or she jeopardizes the best interests of the children involved, and the state takes a dim view of this practice. Enforcing child support orders that your ex is evading, however, can be complicated, which makes having an experienced Annapolis child support lawyer on your side well-advised.
Once the court issues a child support order requiring your ex to pay child support in a specific amount each month, you can turn to the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA) if your payments are not coming in on a regular basis. The CSEA has considerable power in this matter and – in its efforts to obtain ongoing child support and back payments for arrearages – has the ability to engage in all of the following actions:
While these are powerful tools, they can be difficult to have implemented by the court without the professional legal counsel of an experienced Annapolis child support lawyer in your corner.
If you are not receiving the child support you are owed, it is a serious matter that needs careful attention. While your situation is unique to you and your children, there are several options available to parents who are owed child support that can be helpful.
If your ex is behind in his or her child support payments, filing a motion to compel with the court is a mechanism for asking the court to make up for those missing payments. This is often done by tacking on an additional 25 percent to the standing payments if the payor is financially capable of handling this amount. Further, if the payor has any additional sources of income, the court can garnish the amount that your ex is in arrears.
If your ex is behind in his or her child support payments by at least 30 days and has a steady job, you can request an Earnings Withholding Order along with the Motion to Compel. This order serves as instruction for your ex’s employer to reduce his or her current paycheck by the amount you are owed (up to a maximum percentage of the payor’s total income). If your children’s other parent does not have a steady job or is self-employed, you will need to explore other options.
From here, you’ll need to move to more serious legal action, which can include filing a Motion for Judgment. Such a motion requests that the court enter a judgment against your ex for the total amount of child support that is owed you. Such a judgment opens up your ability to seize the funds from different sources, including from your ex’s properties and other assets.
Filing a Motion for Contempt is more serious still. This motion requests that the court find your ex in contempt of court due to his or her violation of the court order to pay child support. To be in contempt, your children’s other parent must have violated the court order purposefully and with the express intention of non-payment. For example, if your ex quits his or her job (or is otherwise earning far less than he or she has the potential to earn) in order to avoid paying court-ordered child support, the court may find him or her in contempt. This is a serious action that can have serious consequences that must be taken into careful consideration.
If the court finds your ex in contempt of its orders, it can levy harsh punishment. The consequences of said punishment, however, can make obtaining the child support you need to provide for your children – and that is at the heart of your filing in the first place – that much more difficult to obtain. The court can impose a heavy fine on your ex, order the suspension of his or her drivers’ license, or even incarcerate him or her until the payor agrees to comply with the child support order. It is important to note, however, that there are further consequences involved.
If the court requires that your ex’s driver’s license be suspended in order to help move him or her to pay the child support owed, it can be very motivating. If, however, your ex is unable to drive, it can also directly affect his or her ability to continue working and to keep his or her job. In other words, it can indirectly affect his or her ability to pay the child support that was the reason for the license suspension to begin with.
If the judge puts your ex in jail for refusing to pay the child support he or she owes you, it means that he or she won’t be able to go to work, but it also leaves your ex more vulnerable to unemployment, which would obviously defeat your purposes. The court can also order weekend jail if that accommodates your ex’s job and also motivates him or her to pay the child support owed.
Ultimately, both you and the court want your ex to pay the child support he or she has been ordered to pay. The court is always motivated by the best interest of the children involved, and child support is an important component in this delicate equation. You, too, want what’s best for your children, and to provide for them in the best way that you can, you need the child support your ex has been ordered to pay. This is why the court will typically start with the least aggressive options and move forward toward more invasive actions if the payor refuses to acquiesce.
Child support is critical to your ability to care for your children, and if your ex isn’t making his or her court-ordered payments, it can put you and your children in a serious bind. Patrick Crawford at the Law Office of Patrick Crawford is a practiced Annapolis child support lawyer who understands the urgent nature of your child support concern and is committed to helping you obtain a favorable resolution. Your case matters, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 410-216-7905 for more information about how we can help you today.