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What Happens to Child Support Arrears in Massachusetts?


Has your ex stopped paying court-ordered child support? If so, the capable and resourceful family law attorneys at Davis Law Group can help you take legal steps to obtain the payments you need and deserve. Top-rated divorce lawyer Jay Davis and his legal team will fight for your rights and help you recover child support arrears. If you’d like us to review your case for free, give us a call at (617) 752-6216 or leave a message here.

How Child Support in Massachusetts Works

In Massachusetts, child support includes monetary support for:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Health care (including out-of-pocket expenses and insurance premiums)

Whether you have never been married or you are divorcing, you will need to obtain an official child support order from a court so you can enforce and secure the payments in case the paying parent stops paying support at any point. Child support orders in Massachusetts are determined based on two factors: the government-issued child support guidelines and the available income of each parent.

What Happens When the Paying Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?

All Massachusetts families have access to the Child Support Enforcement Division to enforce a parent’s responsibility to pay child support. You can also work with a private family attorney like Jay Davis to help you collecting past-due child support — we provide more time and attention to our clients and can act much faster than a large government agency. Call us at (617) 752-6216 or contact us online to know more.

The Child Support Enforcement Department (CSE) and family court judges in Massachusetts have established a set of guidelines on collecting payment from parents who have past-due child support accounts, or commonly referred to as “arrears”:

  • CSE first sends out a Notice of Child Support Delinquency to alert the paying parent who has failed to pay what they owe; this includes interest and penalties. This notice will also include a list of all enforcement tools the department can potentially use to collect the arrears.
  • CSE sends a withholding order to the employer who has hired the paying parent (all child support orders in Massachusetts include this provision). This will increase the current withholding amount to 25% until all the arrears have been paid.
  • If the paying parent doesn’t owe child support any longer (because the child is no longer underage, for example), but they still owe past payments, CSE will levy a part of their income until the amount is settled in full.
  • If the paying parent has any property like houses, vehicles, boats, etc., CSE may set up liens on it. This way, the parent who owes support payments won’t be able to transfer ownership or sell the property until the arrears are paid off and the liens are removed.
  • CSE will dig out their records and match them with those of the credit unions and banks that operate in and outside of Massachusetts. If a match is found, the department may levy the bank accounts of the paying parent to collect the arrears.
  • CSE can also take on the paying parent’s lottery winnings and federal and state tax returns, apply them towards the arrears.
  • If the paying parent has arrears in excess of $2,500, CSE will refer the case to the US State Department — this will automatically restrict, revoke, or deny their passport.
  • CSE may also collect money from Worker’s Comp and unemployment benefits that would otherwise be received by the paying parent.
  • CSE may report the paying parent to the consumer credit bureaus, leading to quite a bit of damage to the parent’s credit score.
  • CSE will likely work with the insurance company of the paying parent to match the insurance payouts made against them. This settlement will be used to pay off the arrears.
  • In some cases, the public pension payments can be collected by the CSE and used to settle the arrears.
  • The motor vehicle registration and driver’s license of the paying parent may also be suspended by CSE.

If you are a paying parent, it is crucial to ensure that you keep up with your child support payments. If, for some reason, you are unable to do so, for example, if you have lost your job or you have been severely ill or something else, contact CSE directly or get in touch with a competent family attorney like Jay Davis.

Specializing in Family Law in Massachusetts: Contact Davis Law Group

Whether you owe child support payments or you are the receiving parent, we can help. At Davis Law Group, we understand how frustrating it can be to accumulate arrears and have CSE take enforcement measures against you. It can ruin your finances, your credit score, and your reputation. And if you are a receiving parent who relies on child support payments to take care of your child, arrears mean your child won’t be as financially supported as they can be to live a thriving future.

Whatever your situation may be, Jay Davis and his team specializing in Massachusetts family law can help resolve the complex, emotionally charged dispute, and get your life back on track. To set up a free and confidential consultation with our dedicated child support team, please call us at (617) 752-6216 or reach us online.

The post What Happens to Child Support Arrears in Massachusetts? first appeared on Davis Law Group.
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