How is child support enforced in the state of Maryland?

When parents fall behind on their child support or choose not to pay, the state retains several enforcement options to encourage compliance.

Under Maryland law, all children are entitled to receive financial support from both of their parents. To ensure that parents fulfill this commitment, family law courts may issue child support orders. While most people comply with these financial obligations, there are situations when a parent may be unable or unwilling to pay. In such cases, the state's Child Support Enforcement Administration has several options for collecting past due amounts.

Wage withholdings

When parents are late making their court-ordered child support payments or fail to make them in full, the state may withhold their income. If this action is initiated, a portion of the parents' earnings may be held back by their employers. Those funds are diverted to the state and applied to their child support arrears. Such withholdings may be taken out of people's regular wages, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment benefits and other forms of income.

License suspensions

Another option available for enforcing child support orders in Maryland are license suspensions. Parents who fall behind or refuse to pay may have their professional or recreational licenses revoked. This may include medical, contracting, hunting and fishing licenses. Additionally, people may lose their driving privileges until the matter of their past due child support is resolved.

Garnishments

Sometimes, parents who are in arrears on their child support have the funds to pay, and simply choose not to. In such cases, the state may garnish assets from their financial accounts. The funds seized through such garnishments are then applied toward their past due balance.

Credit reporting

Reporting non-payment of child support to the credit bureaus is another commonly employed enforcement option by the CSEA. Like late and past due payments on other types of accounts, this could have a negative effect on their credit scores. This may affect their ability to secure lines of credit or loans, as well as certain employment opportunities, which may encourage parents to get caught up on what they owe.

Contempt of court

Since child support payments are court ordered, failing to pay may be treated in the same way as other violations of court orders. Consequently, parents who do not comply with their child support orders may be found in contempt of court. The court may then incarcerate parents who owe past due child support or impose other penalties to encourage them to get current on their payments.

When Maryland parents who are ordered to pay child support neglect to fulfill their obligations, the custodial parents may not be able to adequately provide for their children's needs. Therefore, people who are owed past due child support may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their rights and options, as well as guide them through the legal process.