Few situations produce more anger and frustration in custodial parents than the other parent’s failure to pay court-ordered child support. Fortunately, federal and state governments take non-payment of child support seriously, and there are ways to collect back child support from deadbeat parents – an actual legal term.

Deadbeat Parent Child Support Enforcement

Even if the politer term “delinquent non-custodial parent” is used, the enforcement measures available to state attorneys under the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 remains the same. Such measures include:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Credit bureau reporting of the debt
  • Tax refund withholding
  • Bank account freezing
  • Real estate or other property liens
  • Order of contempt
  • Passport denial
  • Driver’s license suspension

In the worst-case scenario, the deadbeat parent may end up serving jail time. Of course, a parent in jail cannot work and make child support payments, so incarceration is reserved only for the most egregious offenders. There is no question, however, that the idea of a jail sentence can motivate a deadbeat parent to pay their child support debt.

Before it gets to that point, the non-paying parent receives a notice outlining the child support process, including when and how such payments must be made. If the deadbeat parent does not pay, once a certain amount of time has passed with no payments forthcoming, or a specific amount of child support is owed, the state then proceeds to take action against the delinquent parent. A deadbeat parent cannot use bankruptcy to relieve themselves of their child support obligations.

Modification of Child Support Payments

Of course, there are some parents who do not pay child support because of legitimate financial hardship. If a delinquent parent truly cannot pay their child support obligation, they must file a motion to request modification of their child support payments. They must provide the court with accurate accounts of their current financial situation. If the deadbeat parent fails to file such a motion, a default delinquency judgment may be triggered.

Back Child Support Once a Child Turns 18

Once a child turns 18, child support per se may no longer apply, but that does not mean that responsibility for past due child support vanishes. All of the state and federal enforcement apparatus are still in place, but once your child turns 18 a statute of limitations for collecting such support may mean there is not much time left to collect the money you are owed. It may prove necessary to go back to court and have the child support order renewed.

In New Jersey, child support often ends at 17, not 18, unless the child has not graduated from high school. Support may continue beyond that for young people with certain physical or emotional disabilities.