Child Support Enforcement in Nebraska

Learn how child support is enforced and overdue payments are collected in Nebraska.

By , J.D. · University of Minnesota School of Law

This article will explain how child support orders are enforced in the State of Nebraska. If you have any questions about child support enforcement after you read this article, you should contact a family law attorney for advice.

Child Support Overview

In Nebraska, child support is intended to pay for the basic care (food, shelter, clothing, education) and medical support (insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs) of children. For purposes of this article, the parent who receives child support is known as the "receiving parent," while the parent who has to pay is called "the paying parent."

The parent who has physical custody (meaning, the parent who cares for the children more frequently) spends a greater percentage of time with the children. That parent pays for more of the children's needs by virtue of the fact that they're together more often. So the other parent (also known as the non-custodial parent), who spends less time with the children, has to make regularly scheduled child support payments in order to ensure that each parent is paying a fair share of the children's expenses.

Whether you're divorcing or you've never been married, when your relationship ends you need to get an official child support order. In Nebraska, child support orders are determined according to each parent's net income and a mathematical formula known as the child support guidelines. For a detailed discussion of how child support is calculated please see Child Support in Nebraska by Teresa Wall-Cyb.

What Role Does the State of Nebraska Play in Child Support Enforcement?

The Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services is a state agency serving the citizens of Nebraska with respect to behavioral health, children and family services, Medicaid and long-term care, public health, developmental disabilities, and veterans' homes. Within the Department is a separate unit called Child Support Enforcement (CSE). The purpose of CSE is to enforce state and federal laws about child support.

CSE performs critical child support functions. It uses an administrative (non-judicial) process to:

  • locate missing parents
  • establish paternity of children born to unmarried couples
  • set up child and medical support obligations
  • review existing orders and modify them if necessary, and
  • enforce child and medical support obligations.

And, when paying parents aren't meeting their child support obligations, CSE can use various enforcement and collection measures (see below).

However, family court judges can also issue orders to help enforce and collect child support. In some cases, parents may be able to obtain a quicker result by hiring an attorney to go to court and ask a judge to enforce child support. In some circumstances, this can be more effective than waiting for CSE to act.

What Happens If I Don't Pay Child Support as Ordered?

CSE has a number of powerful legal and financial tools it can use to extract money from parents with past-due child support accounts (known as arrearages). The tools include, but are not limited to:

  • CSE can take money directly from a parent's paycheck by using income withholding. Notice must first be provided to the parent's employer.
  • CSE can report parents with arrearages to the consumer credit bureaus, which will damage those parents' credit ratings.
  • If a parent falls three or more months behind on child support, CSE can suspend the parent's driver's license, hunting and fishing licenses, and professional or occupational licenses.
  • If a parent owes more than $2500 in arrearages, CSE can refer the case to the U.S. State Department, which will suspend, deny, or revoke passports to travel out of the country.
  • If a parent falls three or more months behind, CSE can intercept the paying parent's state and federal tax returns and apply them to any arrearages.
  • CSE can garnish a paying parent's bank accounts.
  • CSE can file liens against real estate. The liens won't be released until the paying parent catches up on all arrearages. This means the paying parent can't sell or transfer any of these assets until child support is brought current.
  • CSE can ask the court to "execute" the paying parent's property. This means the authorities can take the property and sell it.
  • CSE can file a legal action called a "contempt," which will require the paying parent to go to court and "show cause," or explain to a judge, why support hasn't been paid on time. Contempts are very serious. They can result in jail time or entry of a judgment that will damage the paying parent's credit score.
  • CSE has the ability to match delinquent parents with accounts in banks that operate inside and outside of the State of Nebraska. Once CSE identifies the parents' bank accounts, it can levy (take) the money.
  • CSE can charge interest on accounts that are 30 days past due.
  • If the paying parent moves, CSE can contact child support officials in other states to ensure that the Nebraska support obligations are still satisfied.


Nebraska Judicial Branch: Online Legal Self-Help Center

Nebraska State Bar Association (legal aid for qualifying individuals)

Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services: Child Support Enforcement Program

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