Child support payments are critical to the well-being of children. They ensure that both the custodial and non-custodial parent is making contributions to their child's life and needs.
Most Minnesota parents comply with orders to pay child support. However, there are parents who fall behind because they can't or don't want to pay. Those who are delinquent with their child support payments risk facing serious penalties, so it can be helpful to know how child support enforcement works in this state.
Tackling delinquency issues early
A parent who has missed one or two child support payments over the course of several months is not likely to face aggressive enforcement efforts. At this stage, it can be effective to have a conversation with the parent, determine the cause of the delinquency, and address it directly.
For instance, if missed payments arise from isolated situations and mistakes, then there may not be anything for the delinquent parent to do besides pay arrears and avoid future missteps. If a parent hasn't taken the responsibility seriously, then reminding him or her that it is a court-ordered obligation can help to get payments back on track. If a parent cannot keep up with payments because of a change in financial circumstances, then assess the possibility of setting up a payment agreement or pursuing a modification of support.
Taking more aggressive action
If early intervention efforts are unsuccessful, then the child support office and county attorney can take more aggressive actions to prompt compliance.
As noted on the Minnesota Department of Human Services website, enforcement actions can include:
- Financial penalties, e.g., the charging of interest and seizure of assets;
- Suspension of various licenses, including driver's, occupational, hunting and fishing licenses; and
- Legal penalties, including felony charges and contempt of court proceedings, which can lead to jail time.
Know your legal options
If you are unable to pay support, ignoring the problem will only make your situation worse. Instead, you can contact the child support office or an attorney to discuss payment options and legal remedies.
Parents who are not receiving their court-ordered support payments would be wise to take enforcement actions. Acting fast can minimize the financial strain you might be experiencing and help you collect the money owed.