What options do you have when the child support you’re owed is not paid? Find out in this guide on how to enforce child support payments.
Once mandated by the court, child support is non-negotiable. The person responsible for paying it has two options: pay up or face jail.
At the same time, failure to pay child support isn’t uncommon. In 2013, 5.7 million custodial parents were owed $32.9 billion in child support. They only received about 68.5 percent of those payments. Less than half received all the money owed.
If you’re owed child support from your child’s other parent you aren’t alone, and you have options. Here’s what all custodial parents need to know about how to enforce child support in Nebraska.
Your Options for Enforcing Child Support in Nebraska
Child support pays for the cost of primary care and medical support for children. It exists to help the receiving parent, who usually has full physical custody, pay for the essential costs of childcare. A deal is typically set via a child support order, which considers each parent’s income along with the child support guidelines, a mathematical formula that indicates the appropriate child support payment.
In Nebraska, the Department of Health & Human Services’ Child Support Enforcement (CSE) unit enforces both state and federal laws related to child support.
If the paying parent fails to pay or only makes part of the payment, then CSE has several tools to bring the account back up to date.
CSE has the legal right to:
- Withhold money from the paying parent’s paycheck
- Report missed payments to the consumer credit bureaus; after three months of non-payment,
- Suspend the paying parent’s licenses (driver’s licenses, professional or occupational license, and hunting and fishing licenses)
Once the amount due reaches over $2,500, CSE may choose to refer the case to the U.S. State Department. The State Department then revokes, suspends, or denies a passport or passport card to the parent in arrears, which prevents them from leaving the U.S.
The paying parent must make acceptable payment arrangements before CSE takes their name off the travel list. It can take two to three weeks for CSE to finish reporting to the State Department. Check out the Handbook on Child Support Enforcement for more answers to your CSE questions.
At three months past due, the CSE can use tactics like:
- Garnishing the parent’s bank account(s) (both in and out of state bank accounts)
- File liens against their property (real estate)
- Intercept state and federal tax returns
- Sell the paying parent’s property
- Charge interest on accounts
- Contact other states (if the parent moves)
- Hold the parent in contempt
All of these are serious tactics, and once CSE uses these resources, it won’t lift them until the accounts are current.
Contempt is perhaps the most severe of all these processes. It is a legal action that requires the parent to explain to a judge why they have not paid child support. At its most severe, the paying parent can end up in jail.
Can I Deny Visitation for Failure to Pay Child Support?
As demonstrated above, there are several means of legal recourse to get someone who owes child support to pay up. However, failure to pay child support does not impact visitation rights.
The state does not allow you to attempt to remove visitation rights.
If you believe that visitation is not in the best interest of the child, then you must ask the court to rescind the rights. A judge will rule accordingly.
How to Apply for Child Support Enforcement Services
CSE offices monitor payments to ensure everyone pays what and when they should. However, if you receive late payments or those lower than the amount due, you need to tell CSE. Additionally, you need to inform CSE if you receive payments directly. Keeping CSE up-to-date helps ensure your office is notified and allows them to act quickly if a payment doesn’t arrive.
CSE’s services aren’t automatic: you must apply. Any parent (or person) who has physical custody of a child or children can ask for support claim services. You start by applying with either the state or local CSE office. Usually, your local CSE office is your first port of call and provides a more efficient service.
You must provide the agency with evidence related to your case. When you can provide more details, you generally find more success and speedier processing.
At a minimum, you need to provide the following documentation:
- Information about the noncustodial payment (name, address, Social Security number, employer details, names of friends and relatives, payslip, tax, bank account information, photograph or physical description)
- Birth certificates of children covered by the child support order
- Child support order (if available)
- Records of past child support payments
- Information about custodial parent’s income and assets
- Information and records of child-related expenses
These details also help CSE find the noncustodial parent if they have fallen off your radar altogether.
You also need to be able to pay for the recovery service. The fees differ depending on the services you need; attorney-based services typically cost more.
The only parents who do not need to pay include those on Medicaid, cash assistance programs, or those receiving Foster Care assistance.
Is It Possible to Sue for Child Support?
CSE is a helpful resource that most parents hope not to use. However, it is a non-judicial process, which means it can take a long time to reach a conclusion and get you a check.
You can choose to sue for child support in family court. The process is faster – but more expensive because you need to hire a family law attorney.
Child Support Payments Are Mandatory
If the judge decides that a parent must pay child support, then they must make the payments on time and in full. Why? Because child support is not an award: it provides essential funds for the primary care of children.
However, half of all people don’t receive the child support owed. In these cases, you have two options: ask CSE for help or consider a lawsuit in the family court.
Do you have questions about the legal aspects of child support? Call (402) 415-2525 today for a free initial consultation with Nebraska family law attorneys.