Every year, obligor-parents fail to pay millions of dollars in child support, causing obligees across Minnesota to struggle financially. In fact, statistics from the Minnesota Department of Human Services show that about 77 percent of child support cases have some debt.
If you are an obligee struggling with unpaid support, know that you are not alone. If you are a child support obligor, understand that there are consequences for delinquency.
Support enforcement actions in Minnesota
Minnesota child support offices and county attorneys can enforce a child support order in several ways, including:
- Suspending drivers’, recreational and professional licenses
- Denying student grants
- Putting a hold on a person’s passport
- Seizing or placing a levy on property
- Charging interests
- Reporting past-due support to credit bureaus
- Referring a parent for criminal prosecution
- Pursuing contempt of court actions
These measures serve a few different purposes, including penalizing an obligor parent, collecting payment, and/or motivating parents to get current with their obligations.
An isolated incident of unpaid or late support is unlikely to trigger these actions, and not every parent will experience each one. However, each penalty has the potential to be disruptive, embarrassing and stressful, prompting action.
Anticipating and avoiding these penalties
Avoiding these penalties is crucial for obligors, and the easiest way to do this is to stay current with support obligations. Even if you are mad at the other parent or feel the order is unfair, paying on time and in full will be necessary to avoid enforcement actions and penalties.
And if your circumstances change, talking to an attorney about modifying child support as soon as possible is crucial. You can also pursue other options, including setting up payment agreements to help get back on track.
Paying child support is a responsibility parents must take seriously. Should there be concerns about unpaid support or potential financial challenges, parents should not wait until the damage becomes too great to get help. Taking action right away to address the issue can protect parents and children affected by these orders.