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What are the penalties for not paying child support?

Failing to pay court-ordered child support payments in Massachusetts can lead to multiple consequences. The state has a number of administrative remedies which it can employ in order to collect the ordered payments from people who are not paying what is owed.

When a parent is past-due on child support, the Department of Revenue, or DOR, will send a notice to that individual informing them of the past due amount, any accrued interest and the steps the Child Support Enforcement division may take against them in order to collect.

Child support is subject to income withholding in the state. When a parent is past due, DOR can levy the parent's income by sending a notice to their employer. The income withholding order can include an administrative increase of 25 percent until the past due amounts are paid in full. Bank accounts can also be levied, and federal and state tax returns can be seized. People can lose their driver's licenses, have liens placed against their real and personal property and have their passports denied. Additionally, unemployment compensation payments and public pensions can be intercepted, as can lottery winnings. If a parent is expecting an insurance settlement greater than $500, the insurance company must first check with child support enforcement to see if child support is past due. If so, the check will be remitted to DOR instead of the parent.

It is very important that parents pay their child support as ordered by the court. Failing to do so can bring a variety of different consequences. In the event that a parent's financial circumstances have significantly changed, he or she should continue paying as ordered and file a motion to modify the amount with the court. A family law attorney may help organize this process.

Source: Mass.gov, "ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT", October 29, 2014

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