Child Support Enforcement in D.C.
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed March 13, 2019
Ending the romantic relationship with your child's parent doesn't mean that your obligation to your child ends. Absent termination of parental rights, a parent is still responsible for parental duties, including financial support of any minor children. Typically, this requirement is addressed with a child support order, with the non-custodial parent paying child support to the custodial parent. However, sometimes the parent doesn't meet the obligation voluntarily and refuses to pay. When this occurs, the custodial parent needs to enforce the child support order.
In the District of Columbia, the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) of the Attorney General's Office is the appropriate agency that will assist parents in getting the support that they're entitled to receive. Prior to enforcing child support payments, there should be an existing order in place with a set amount of child support.
Child Support Enforcement in D.C. Overview
Although it's recommended to consult with an attorney for complex cases, it can be useful to refer to a plain language guide to serve as an introduction to the law. Read the chart below to learn about child support enforcement in D.C.
District of Columbia Code Division II. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure
District of Columbia Code Division VIII. General Laws
Motion for Contempt
Filing a motion for contempt is one way to enforce a child support order. "Contempt" refers to conduct that disrespects or defies the authority of the court. There are two types of contempt: civil and criminal.
When the non-custodial parent doesn't comply with instructions in the court order, the court can order them to follow the order. For a showing of civil contempt, the aggrieved parent must show the following:
The court may order the non-custodial parent:
If the non-custodial parent willfully disobeys the court order and all other enforcement tools aren't successful, then the parent could be in criminal contempt. The court could punish the non-custodial parent with the following penalties:
Court Orders to Collect Child Support Payments
When a court finds a parent in contempt, CSSD has many ways to collect support.
This requires that the non-custodial parent's employer withholds child support from the parent's paycheck before the parent receives any portion of the wages.
The funds are taken directly from the following:
Liens can be placed on the delinquent parent's real or personal property.
The court and CSSD can intercept state or federal tax refunds and lottery prize winnings to be used to pay the child support.
Remedies to Help Parents Collect Child Support
Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM)
Bank accounts belonging to the delinquent parent may be located, frozen, and seized to pay back child support.
Driver's License and Vehicle Registration Suspension
The DMV may revoke the parent's driver's license and/or vehicle registration.
The non-custodial parent's passport can be denied, revoked, or blocked for renewal.
Credit Bureau Reporting
When the arrears amount is at least $1,000, CSSD may inform Credit Bureau agencies.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Child Support Enforcement in D.C.: Related Resources
- District of Columbia Child Custody Laws
- District of Columbia Child Support Guidelines
- How Do I Find a Parent for Child Support?
Need Help with Child Support Enforcement in D.C.? Contact an Attorney
If you're a D.C. parent who has trouble enforcing a child support order, don't handle the situation by yourself. Reach out to an experienced child support attorney for expert advice and effective legal representation.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
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