The Many Different Ways to Collect Child Support Arrears – Bring the Hammer Down!
I suppose there are as many reasons or excuses given for a failure to pay court ordered child support as there are leaves of grass in a field. All excuses aside, the child deserves to be supported by the parents, morality dictates this as does the law. While there are some sad stories of people down on their luck and doing everything they can to pay as ordered, but more often than not the failure to pay is evidence of person who should have never been blessed with the birth of a child. These are the deadbeats that need to be hammered by the law. If nothing else they should be jailed. But better than that, they should be forced to pay. Unfortunately the duty to force the issue belongs initially to the custodial parent.
Do you ever wonder how many of those people out there that have failed to pay child support as ordered and have amassed a substantial arrears have actually gone without gasoline in their car, or without a car, or without 100 channels of cable TV, or a smart phone with unlimited calling, text and data, or without food, clothing or shelter? Meanwhile, the child they have been ordered to support is going without, and/or the single, custodial parent is forced to carry the entire load by themselves.
There are many ways to collect child support arrears, some are relatively straight forward and “simple” and others are more cumbersome and complex.
For a custodial parent of limited means, who is unable to afford to hire a private attorney to represent them Child Support Services, a division of the Department of Human Resources can fill the void. However, this article is focused on the tools available to private attorneys that are willing to aggressively pursue child support arrears.
Some of those tools available are as follows and only briefly described herein:
- A Charging Order: A Charging Order is used to collect monies directly from a LLC, Partnership or Limited Partnership that is owned in full or in part by the parent owing the arrears. Many people that owe child support arrears are successful in sheltering assets in any one of these types of business entities. This can be remedied by obtaining a Charging Order, and thereafter filing a Garnishment in the county where the business entity is registered. This is not a simple process, but a qualified child support attorney can complete this process.
- Levy and Sale of Encumbered Real Estate: This relates to real estate owned by the parent that owes the arrears, and there is a security deed (mortgage) owed on the property, but there is equity in the property (or in other words the value of the property is higher than the indebtedness owed on the property). This process involves obtaining a judgment or fi.fa. for the arrears amount owed, checking the general execution docket in the county where the real estate is located regarding other superior liens against the property, filing your fi.fa. on the general execution docket, filing a complaint for the appointment of a receiver, setting and completing a hearing for the appointment of a receiver, interfacing with the Sheriff’s Department regarding the required notices and scheduling a sale date, conducting the sale, and then completing the process with another hearing. There are other steps involved, but as you can see this is not a straight forward or simple process either. A custodial parent absolutely needs the help of an experienced attorney to complete this process.
- Levy and Sale of Stock in a Corporation: This begins with communication with the Sheriff’s Department and perhaps the County Attorney, then the filing of a Contempt Petition along with discovery requests regarding the stock certificates, and a hearing on the contempt, and then a Sheriff’s sale to follow. There are other steps involved, but as you can see this is not a straight forward or simple process either. A custodial parent absolutely needs the help of an experienced attorney to complete this process.
- Execution of a Writ of Fi.Fa. on Real Estate and Personal Property: This process is quite similar to the process associated with the levy and sale of stock in a corporation and culminates in a Sheriff’s Sale of the property seized.
- Placing a Lien on a Vehicle Title: A fi.fa. must be obtained and process followed through the Tax Commissioner. Then waiting for the owner of the vehicle to try and sell the vehicle or foreclosing on the lien. There are other steps involved, but as you can see this is not a straight forward or simple process either. A custodial parent absolutely needs the help of an experienced attorney to complete this process.
- Petition for Contempt: In a contempt action the judge can among other things order that the parent owing the arrears be incarcerated and be required to pay a sum certain before they can be released. The Court may also issue an Income Deduction Order in these cases, which directs the employer to deduct monies from the non-paying parent’s pay check before they ever receive it. In a contempt petition the filing party has a statutory claim for their attorney’s fees.
- Regular Garnishment: This is a garnishment of a bank account held by the parent owing the arrears. A judgment or fi.fa. establishing the arrears is required. The garnishment process is not as complex as some of the previously listed methods, but is still not a simple matter.
- Continuing Garnishment for Child Support: This is a garnishment of the wages/income of the parent owing the arrears. It functions very much like an Income Deduction Order, with some subtle differences. The garnishment process is not as complex as some of the previously listed methods, but is still not a simple matter.
A subtle truth about all of these methods of collecting child support is that they will place the non-paying parent in a positon where they are forced to make decisions. Would they rather have their corporate shares taken from them, their vehicle or real estate foreclosed on, or potentially going to jail, rather than paying the support they owe? It is amazing how many times, when the non-paying parent sees the hammer coming down, that all of a sudden they have the money and want to pay! Do not let a dead-beat parent get away with shunning their responsibility to pay support for their children. Bring the hammer down on them!