Enforcing Child Support Orders

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

When you've been ordered to pay child support but you've lost your job or experienced other circumstances that have significantly changed your ability to pay, you may request a change in the support order. But without a modification, you could face serious consequences if you pay late or don't pay at all. 

If you’re the parent receiving support for your kids, your job is to make sure you keep getting the 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. But help is available.

Every state has an agency dedicated to child support enforcement. Among other tools, 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, so that support payments will be automatically taken out of that parent's paychecks
  • 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 links to learn more about how child support enforcement works (both in general and in specific states), including how to find your local the child support enforcement agency. 

State-Specific Information About Child Support Enforcement:

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