Child support is a court mandated payment made by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, and it is designed to assist the custodial parent with the costs of raising a child. Many nations around the world have child support laws, because raising a child is believed to be the joint responsibility of the parents, whether or not the parents are still together. It is awarded by the court after the judge has considered factors like the income of the non-custodial parent, along with outstanding expenses borne by both parents. Once the court has ordered support, the non custodial parent is expected to pay it on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, many parents avoid paying child support, using a variety of justifications. Common excuses for avoiding support payments include inability to pay, lack of accountability for the money, unwillingness to have the child in the first place, to protest visitation agreements, or a personal conviction that the amount of the award is unfair. The burden of “deadbeat” parents is placed heavily on women, who are more likely to be awarded primary custody, and deadbeat dads are a well understood social phenomenon in most countries. If a non custodial parent feels that an award is unfair, it is his or her responsibility to file a formal claim with the awarding court.
There are a number of options for recovering child support payments from a parent who is shirking on his or her duties. Many parents become frustrated with the process, and turn to a private agency to recover the monies they are owed, but there are legal courses to pursue, most of which are free. The first step is documenting the non-payment with the court that issued the initial child custody order. Employees of the court can work with the parents to try to reach an amicable agreement through mediation, or find the non-custodial parent in contempt of court, which will initiate a legal process to recover the money.
Common methods of extracting support from deadbeat parents include garnishing of wages for a lump sum award, wage withholding for regular monthly payments, seizure of or liens on assets, and interception of tax returns. Failure to pay support can also result in a fine and jail sentence, although this law is rarely enforced. Child support enforcement can also be carried out across state lines, with the court that awarded the payments requesting assistance from a child support agency in another state.