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What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support in Maryland? 

patrickcrawford | May 17, 2023

In Maryland, child support is strictly enforced in accordance with family law to ensure the well-being of minor children. Many parents struggle to pay their child’s support on time or fail to complete payments entirely. Once a child support obligation is recognized by the state, it is legally binding, and failure to pay can result in substantial penalties and criminal charges. 


There are several measures you or your co-parent can take to enforce court-ordered child support. Consequences vary in severity depending on the amount owed, the length of time without payment, the intention to evade payment, and your communication with your co-parent. If you need legal assistance with enforcing child support payments or attempting to modify an existing child support order, our Annapolis child support attorney can help. Don’t wait to reach out to the Law Office of Patrick Crawford to speak with an experienced Annapolis child support attorney.  


Penalties for Failure to Pay Child Support in Maryland

Failing to pay child support in Maryland is a serious offense that can lead to numerous consequences, such as fines, driver’s license suspension, and criminal charges. 


The Maryland Code of Family Law Section 10–203 establishes the penalties for failure to support a minor child, making it clear that all parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children. If you or your co-parent fail to meet child support obligations, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) can take quick and aggressive action to enforce the child support order.


Penalties can include up to 36 months in prison and a fine of up to $100, along with possible community service requirements or probation. In addition to these criminal penalties, if you fail to pay child support, you will likely also face civil penalties that aim to obtain the debt owed. 


Additional penalties for not paying your child support can include the following: 

  • OCSE can notify the Motor Vehicle Administration to suspend your driver’s license.
  • If you are a non-custodial parent and owe more than $2,500 in back child support, your passport application or passport renewal can be denied. 
  • The child support obligation is typically reported to credit bureaus which can negatively impact your credit score.


Young man stressed about child support


Federal Penalties for Failure to Pay Child Support 

Federal child support enforcement laws are also in place for egregious child support violators who owe substantial amounts and actively evade payment. Federal enforcement is typically used if you evade paying child support in a state in which you are not a resident – especially if you move to another state in an attempt to evade child support payments. 


Under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DPPA), violators who owe more than $5,000 for more than one year on a child in another state can receive a criminal misdemeanor and face up to 6 months in prison. 


How Are Penalties for Not Paying Child Support Determined? 

The court determines penalties for not paying child support in a discretionary manner. Typically, the court evaluates the amount of back child support and the unique circumstances of each case. 


For instance, if a small amount is owed for a short period of time, penalties may be minimal or waived for a first offense. However, if a large amount is owed for an extended period of time or there is a history of evading child support payments, stricter penalties are typically applied. 


How Maryland Enforces Child Support 

The Child Support Enforcement Administration implements several practices to obtain late child support obligations. The goal is to ensure that you comply with the child support order and for children to receive the financial support they need when they need it.


If you are a non-custodial parent that fails to make on-time or full payments, the child support enforcement office will issue withholding orders that collect the back child support from various income sources. There are multiple sources for a withholding order to collect child support, including but not limited to the following: 

  • Withholding child support from wages or unemployment benefits: Under Maryland law, employers must withhold child support payments from non-custodial parents to ensure that child support is paid and paid on time.
  • Intercepting tax refunds: If a non-custodial parent owes past-due child support, the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration can intercept their federal and state tax refunds to pay off the debts.
  • Garnishing of financial accounts: If a non-custodial parent has financial accounts, such as bank accounts, child support enforcement can garnish those accounts to collect child support arrears.
  • Placing a lien on or seizing property: In some cases, the agency may issue an administrative lien on real or personal property and seize assets for past-due child support. 
  • Placing a lien on workers’ compensation claims, personal injury claim recovery, or other civil case recoveries.  
  • Placing a lien on lottery winnings. 


How To Seek Child Support Enforcement 

If your co-parent has missed child support payments, is regularly late on payments, or is actively evading payment, there are steps you can take to seek child support enforcement. 


In Maryland, there is a Child Support Enforcement Agency location in each county. These offices help report issues with child support collection and initiate enforcement. 


If non-payment continues, seek representation from an experienced Maryland child support attorney to help you understand and protect your rights. Attorney Patrick Crawford can implement legal action against your co-parent, such as requesting they be held in contempt of the Court. 


A family law attorney will collaborate with the Child Support Enforcement Agency to locate and contact the non-paying parent, establish a payment source, and notify the family courts to enforce potential penalties for the non-payer. Ultimately, your minor child has a right to child support, and there are legal protections in place to enforce that. 


Contact Our Annapolis Child Support Lawyer For Help 

Child support cases can be challenging and multifaceted legal matters. Our experienced family lawyer, Patrick Crawford, is skilled and dedicated to helping clients protect the rights of their minor children. 


We are committed to these cases and provide personal attention to our clients to guide you through the process. For more information on child support enforcement and how we can help, contact us to schedule a comprehensive consultation. 


Contact the Law Office of Patrick Crawford | Annapolis Family Law & Divorce Attorney for more information today. 

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