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How to collect past-due child support

Children are expensive, and it's unfair when one parent is not doing his or her share to help with the kid's expenses, even with a child support agreement in place. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to collect support payments that are in arrears.

The agency responsible for helping to collect child support will depend on the laws of the state in which you live. For Washington, the agency is called the Division for Child Support (DCS).

Automatic Wage Deductions (and Other Garnishments)

According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, if the other parent has a regular job, you may be able to take advantage of the automatic wage deduction arrangement that applies to many child support agreements when they are drafted. This deduction can come into play even if just one child support payment has been missed.

In addition to wage garnishments, the DCS has the ability to access other types of payments and accounts, including:

  • Certain Social Security payments
  • Bank accounts
  • Unemployment compensation

The DCS also has the ability to put liens on the other parent's personal and real property. For self-employed obligors and for those who are unemployed but not receiving unemployment compensation, you may need to pursue additional options.

Tax Refunds

If the other parent has a tax refund expected, the state agency may be able to have the monies redirected to cover the child support payments owed.

Driver's License Revocation

If the other parent has failed to pay, you can petition for his or her driver's license to be revoked until the child support payments are up to date again.

In addition to laws specific to making collections in Washington, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act provides guidance for those pursuing the collection of child support payments across state lines.

Jail Time

Judges can decide to hold the obligor in contempt of court should he or she refuse to pay, meaning potential jail time. This can be a serious incentive for getting those payments up to date.

The Legal Help You Need

Collecting child support can be an overwhelming process. Seeking counsel from an experienced attorney can give you the peace of mind you deserve. Don't hesitate to contact a lawyer to learn more about your options.

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