Some clients come in and need child support, but say they know the other person isn’t going to pay.
Whether you are in the process of getting a child support order or whether you are in the unfortunate situation of not being paid when you are supposed to be or just thinking ahead, people wonder if there is anything that can be done and if so, what can be done?
If you don’t have a child support order yet, your first step is to speak to a family law attorney. Usually the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent child support. An attorney can help you petition the court for child support and have that support laid out in an order which can later be enforced.
So You Aren’t Getting Paid… What Now?
If you have an order in place AND the payor parent is not paying, you have options. Whether you have not been receiving timely payments or you never started receiving payments after the order went into effect, you have options.
One option is wage withholding. You can request that the child support be automatically deducted from the payor’s paychecks. If the payor’s employer changes, the custodial parent must notify the court of the new employer.
Rule to Show Cause Hearings
The next option is to request a Rule to Show Cause hearing. The recipient of the child support fills out an affidavit, and the judge orders the payor to come to court to explain the nonpayment. If the judge finds that the payor’s failure to obey the previous court order was willful, the judge can find that person in contempt of court.
Contempt of court is punishable by a fine of up to $1,500, up to one year in jail, up to 300 hours of community service, or any combination of the three. If the person does not show up to the Rule to Show Cause hearing after having been properly served, a bench warrant can be issued for their arrest.
There are other consequences to not paying child support as well. If a person has an arrearage (back child support) of $500 or more; no payments within last 60 days, licenses issued by South Carolina can be revoked, including a driver’s license. The payor will get a 45 day warning before this occurs.
Income Tax Offset
Another consequence to not paying child support is an income tax refund offset. For a federal income tax offset, if the payee is a TANF recipient, and the payor has an arrearage of at least $150 and is three months delinquent, the payor’s federal income tax return can be offset and applied to the payor’s child support obligation. For a state income tax refund offset to occur, the payor must be at least $100 in arrears and three months delinquent in payments.
The federal government can also do an administrative offset of payments owed to the payor by the federal government. There are several exceptions to the program. To be eligible to have funds intercepted this way, the same requirements for the federal income tax offset must be met.
Withholding of Unemployment Benefits
Yet another consequence of not paying child support is having unemployment benefits withheld. All unemployment benefits received are eligible to be withheld.
One other way to try to enforce child support payments is with a bank account lien. To make use of this option, the payor must have at least a $1,000 arrearage. This option also only applies to certain types of institutions and certain types of accounts.
An insurance lien can also be used as a tool to try to collect child support. If the payor has an arrearage of $1,000 or more, a lien can be placed against insurance claims, settlements, awards, life insurance claims, and workers’ compensation claims owed to the payor.
In addition, an administrative lien can be put on the payor’s real and personal assets if the payor has an arrearage of at least $1,000.
Another consequence of not paying child support is denial of a passport. If a person has their federal tax refund offset, that person’s passport is automatically revoked. A passport can be denied if there is an arrearage of $2,500 or more.
Need help with your SC child support?
There are so many tools for collecting child support, and there are also many consequences to not paying child support. You may feel hopeless, but you have many options available to you. If you are at a loss for what to do, speak with an attorney to go over your options.