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Making Sure the Child Support Order is Obeyed

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Last updated May 2013

Enforcing a child support order is the way to make sure that parents pay child support.

You can ask the court to enforce a child support order, or you can ask the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division (DOR/CSE) for help.

Asking the court to enforce your child support order

Sometimes you have to go to back to court enforce your child support order. If  the other parent has disobeyed the child support order and not paid their child support, you can take them to court. The kind of case you file to enforce a child support order is called a Complaint for Contempt. 

Judges enforce child support orders with “income assignments”

When judges make child support orders, they order the paying parent’s employer to take the child support out of his or her wages and send it to the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division.  The DOR then send the child support to you.  Taking child support out of the wages is called an “income assignment” or “wage assignment.” The income assignment is the main way that judges make sure that child support is paid on time.

Sometimes parents fall behind in paying their child support.  Sometimes they disobey the child support order.  When that happens you may have to go back to court to enforce your child support order.

Making sure the paying parent obeys the child support order is “enforcing” the order.

When you get a child support order, the court orders an “income assignment” to make sure the child support is paid; the court orders the paying parent’s employer to take the child support out of the paying parent’s wages.  The employer must send the child support to the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division (DOR/CSE). Then DOR/CSE sends the child support to the recipient.

Sometimes parents fall behind in their payments. If a parent falls behind you can go back to court. Or, you can ask the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division (DOR/CSE) to make the parent pay.

Both the court and DOR/CSE can enforce a child support order when a parent falls behind.

  • Courts can enforce child support orders by holding the paying parent in contempt of court. See Filing a Complaint for Contempt
  • DOR/CSE can enforce child support orders by
    • Collecting overdue child support
    • Levying your bank account
    • Charging interest and penalties
    • Increasing the amount withheld from your paycheck by 25%
    • Placing a lien on your real estate or personal property
    • Seizing your personal property
    • Suspending your license
    • Intercepting your tax refunds
    • Making it hard to get credit
    • Filing a Complaint for Contempt

See The Department of Revenue (DOR)

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