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What are the steps to take to collect child support?

Those in Massachusetts who wish to receive child support from an absent parent have to lay the groundwork first. Below are some tips from the Department of Health and Human Services for those seeking child support.

-- Establish paternity. Unless the mother and father were married at the time of the child's birth, paternity must be legally established. This can be done voluntarily by the father or through court-ordered DNA testing.

-- Get a court order for child support. The absent parent will be served with a subpoena to appear in court with documents that verify his or her wages in order to accurately calculate the child support amount.

-- Get the order enforced. Absent parents who are reluctant to support their offspring can have their child support withheld from their paychecks and sent directly to the child support enforcement agency.

The physical address of noncustodial parents can be obtained through cooperation with other Massachusetts state agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Federal Parent Locator Service can also be helpful when their domicile is unknown.

Besides withholding income, the government can intervene on behalf of children and get support for them in the following ways:

-- Withhold income tax refunds.

-- Deny them the right to get passports.

-- Place liens on their property.

-- Report their nonsupport debts to national credit bureaus.

-- Revoke or suspend fishing or hunting licenses, along with drivers' occupational and professional licenses.

-- Seize any federal payments.

Custodial parents can assist agencies by supplying them with as much information about the other parent as possible. Supportive documentation includes:

-- Birth certificates of the child(ren)

-- Separation or divorce agreements or any prior child support orders

-- Letters from the absent father where paternity is implied or admitted

-- Proof of childcare care expenses or medical bills for the child in question

-- Check stubs or financial records documenting wages and assets

-- Any documentation related to previous child support

Even with agency assistance, it can be a lengthy process to collect child support. A family law attorney can be a valuable asset in these cases.

Source: Department of Health & Human Services, "How to Get Child Support," accessed May. 14, 2015

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