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What happens when child support is unpaid?

Child support is considered a continuation of a parent's obligation towards a child after divorce. A parent may leave child support unpaid for any number of reasons, including a change in living expenses, a job loss or simple negligence. The parent's obligation to pay support does not end due to any such circumstance unless the agreement is modified by court order. Willfully ignoring child support obligations in Ohio has serious consequences.

Any failures to pay child support are addressed by the Child Support Enforcement Agency, and the agency may take several steps to collect unpaid child support. The payee does not necessarily have to take any action. A wage garnishment is the most common first step to collection. If the payor is self-employed, then the CSEA may also garnish bank accounts directly. If neither option is possible, then other sources of income may be withheld or garnished, including tax refunds, bonuses or other payments. Finally, the agency may suspend or deny the renewal of licenses such as a driver's license or professional license.

Sometimes, a person truly does not have the money to pay child support because they are unemployed with no income source. The agency may issue a 'seek work" order to such parents. This order requires the parent to report their efforts to gain employment and any income received. Regardless of the parent's circumstances, the amount of back owed child support will continue to accrue.

The worst thing a parent can do is ignore a child support order after a divorce in the hopes that it will disappear. If making child support payments is a struggle, then seeking a modification of the agreement is the best option. Making every effort to pay the child support, even if only a partial amount is possible, is better than paying none at all. Modification options can be discussed with a family law attorney.

Source: Ohio bar Association , "Child Support", December 29, 2014

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