More than 13 million parents in the United States are single parents, according to census data. This number means millions of parents deal with legal issues, such as child support. And when it comes to matters related to child support, the problem typically is this: someone isn’t paying.

If you are supposed to receive child support from your ex, but he or she has not been paying, you should know your legal options for enforcing an order for child support.

Enforcing a support order

If the other parent of your child is behind on child support, there are steps the courts or the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) can take to enforce a child support order. These measures include:

    • Garnishing the delinquent parent’s wages
    • Intercepting his or her tax refunds
    • Taking away his or her driver’s or occupational licenses
    • Holding him or her in contempt (which can result in jail time)
    • Filing liens against his or her property

These measures can get money to the receiving parent or punish a person until payment is made.

Don’t make these mistakes

The above legitimate means of enforcing an order can be successful, but they can take time. Frustrated or desperate parents make the mistake of taking matters into their own hands. Doing so, however, can further complicate the situation.

Common missteps parents make include:

  • Keeping a child from seeing the delinquent parent, in violation of a custody order
  • Stealing property or money from the delinquent parent
  • Accepting sporadic or insufficient payments, assuming there is nothing you can do
  • Attempting to alienate the children against the delinquent parent
  • Harassing or threatening the delinquent parent

These methods may seem justified, but they could backfire. Parents may only be exacerbating the problem by creating additional legal issues or obstacles to enforcing an order for support. Therefore, it is best to pursue lawful means of enforcing a court order.