Enforcing Child Support Orders

Once there’s a court order for child support, whether your divorce is final or not, the recipient parent can enforce the support order if the other parent doesn’t pay support on time or as agreed.

If you’re the paying parent, it’s in your power to pay on time and make things simple, or not follow the court order and make them or challenging. If you’re the parent receiving support, your job is to make sure you keep getting support payments for as long as the children need them. Making sure you can collect the payments regularly and on time can be a challenge, especially if the paying parent is self-employed or has a sporadic income stream.

Many child support orders include an income withholding order (IWO), also called a wage garnishment. The others options for payment are for the paying parent to pay the recipient parent directly, or for the paying parent to submit the payments to a child support enforcement agency, which then turns the money over to the recipient parent.  

Every state has an agency dedicated to child support enforcement. A state child support enforcement agency (CSE) can:

  • help the recipient get an income withholding order prepared and mailed to the paying parent’s employer
  • receive payments from the paying parent and distribute them to the recipient
  • keep track of the payment history in your case
  • follow up if payments aren’t made on time
  • ensure that health insurance for children is in place and continuing under the support order by
  • monitor the paying parent’s efforts to get work if that parent isn’t paying because of loss of a job, and
  • work with both parents to come up with a plan to pay overdue support (arrearages), if payments haven’t been made for a while.

See below for a link to help you find the child support enforcement agency in your state. 


State-Specific Information About Child Support Enforcement:

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