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How does DOR/CSE make sure the other parent pays child support order?

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Reviewed June 2013

Making sure that parents obey child support orders is called “enforcement.” The Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division (DOR/CSE) does not have to go to court to enforce a child support order. Sometimes they do go to court to enforce child support orders.

Income Assignment

When the court makes a child support order, the judge also orders an “income assignment.”  The income assignment orders the paying parent’s employer to take the child support out of the parent’s wages and send it to DOR/CSE.  DOR/CSE then sends the child support to the parent who is supposed to get it.

If the parent who is supposed to pay child support does not pay it, DOR/CSE enforces child support orders by:

Increasing the amount withheld from your paycheck by 25%

Charging interest and penalties

The DOR/CSE can charge interest and penalties for overdue child support. They send an “Annual Notice of Child Support Delinquency” to parents who owe past-due child support. The Notice says how much you owe. See What happens when the DOR/CSE charges interest and penalties?

Read more about the Annual Notice and interest and penalties in DOR/CSE’s Administrative Enforcement brochure. 

Placing a lien on your real estate or personal property

A lien means that if you need to sell your property money you get from the sale will go to paying the overdue child support.  Also a lien on your property makes it harder to borrow money.

Seizing your property

  • financial assets,
  • car,
  • vacation home,
  • boat,
  • lottery winnings,
  • funds from bank accounts – that is called “levying” your bank account,
  • business or personal property. 

Intercepting your

  • state and federal income tax refunds,
  • insurance claims,
  • unemployment compensation payments,
  • worker’s compensation payments,
  • public pension payments.

Levying your bank account

DOR/CSE can “levy” your bank account. This means that the bank must take the child support that you owe out of your account and send it to the DOR/CSE.

See What happens when the DOR/CSE levies my bank account?

Suspending your

  • business license,
  • trade license,
  • professional license,
  • driver’s license,
  • motor vehicle registration.

See DOR/CSE and Suspending a license.

Reporting your child support debt to credit reporting agencies

Filing a Complaint for Contempt

The DOR/CSE can file a Complaint for Contempt against you if you do not pay child support. This means that you must go to a court hearing. A judge will decide how much money you owe. See DOR/CSE and complaint for contempt.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Stop DOR from collecting

If you owe back child support to DOR, use this guided interview to stop DOR from collecting.

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