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In an ideal world, child support is the money a custodial parent receives every month from the other parent. It arrives on time, it's for the right amount, and you never have to argue over the amount or the delivery.
The world is far from ideal.
For many exes with children the reality of child support is much messier. But while you're waiting for the check to arrive there are still clothes to purchase, food to buy, and bills to pay.
The law recognizes that not getting your monthly child support checks is a big problem. So there are ways that you can use the law to get the money owed.
Now is a good time to remember that paying child support is a legal obligation and failure to do so is a crime in every state. So as a final recourse, people who fail to pay can go to jail.
But that's only the last resort. After all, no one's making money from jail and if there's no money there's no child support.
When a person doesn't pay child support, the District Attorney in most states can help serve an order to pay support on the non-compliant parent. Sometimes the official-ness is all it takes.
If that doesn't work the next step is to get a court order.
Courts can force delinquent exes to pay child support by garnishing their wages. Their employer is sent a notice to remove a portion of each paycheck and send it to the court. That money is then forwarded along to cover child support.
If that's not enough, courts can also intercept federal and state tax returns and use them to pay child support. Another repercussion for failing to pay child support is suspension of state licenses.
Driver's license, professional licenses (such as for doctors or lawyers), and business licenses (such as to sell liquor or operate a restaurant) can all be revoked or not renewed in the case of lapsed child support.
How and when to try all those options for child support can get confusing but your attorney can help you figure them out. That means you can concentrate on making sure the bills get paid.