Families Change Guide to Separation & Divorce

4.5 - Getting Child Support After a Court Order

4.5 - Getting Child Support After a Court Order

After you get a child support court order, the other parent must start making child support payments to you. The court order will include a start date for the child support.

In every case ordering child support, the court will order that a wage assignment (garnishment) be issued and served.  The wage assignment tells the employer of the person ordered to pay support to take the support payments out of that person’s wages. 

When the local child support agency (LCSA) is NOT involved, both parents can agree that payments can be made in some other way and can ask that service of the wage assignment (sending the wage assignment to the employer) be "stayed" (put on hold). In this situation, the parents work out how child support will be paid, and handle it between themselves.  

If the LCSA is involved, the LCSA has to agree to have the wage assignment "stayed."  Generally, if a case is open in the LCSA, the agency will keep an active wage assignment in place with the current employer.

Not paying child support can have very serious consequences.  If the court finds that someone has the ability to pay support but is willfully not paying it, it can find that the person ordered to pay support is in contempt of court. Being in contempt of court could mean jail time for the person who is not paying the child support.  This enforcement tool is generally used only when all others have failed since it has such serious consequences.

The local child support agency (LCSA) is there to help parents and children with their support obligations. For example, they have many ways to find someone who changes jobs a lot, they can take someone’s income tax return, they can freeze someone’s bank account, and they can suspend someone’s driver's license or other professional license (like a contractor's license, or a lawyer's license to practice) if they fail to pay support. 

They can also file papers on behalf of either parent to change the amount of support when there has been a change in income, family status, or something else that would affect the support amount.