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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

Enforcing a child support order in Massachusetts

Most Massachusetts couples would agree that divorce typically comes as a shock to children. While spouses fight it out in court, children are often left feeling emotionally insecure. For older children, the prospect of financial insecurity may also loom large as they are unsure about who will pay their school fees, medical bills, and everyday expenses. In the best interest of the child, courts may give child custody to one parent and order that child support be paid by the other. Sadly, some parents do not fulfill their part of the deal and default on child support payments.

Massachusetts imposes a penalty on all defaulters; a 0.5 percent penalty is imposed on parents who have not paid child support for a few months. Defaulters are also subjected to a 0.5 percent interest rate penalty. The Department of Revenue of Massachusetts has many ways to enforce child support. For example, it may increase the amount that is withheld from an owing parent's paycheck by as much as 25 percent. The DOR may also place a lien on the defaulter's property.

There are other ways to enforce child support payments; seizing financial assets is just one of them. The DOR may also suspend a driver's license or trade or business license, and it may even refer the defaulter to the federal government, resulting in passport denial.

There are also provisions for the seizing of lottery winnings, bank accounts, and business property if any parent defaults on child support payments. The DOR may also spoil a defaulter's credit rating by referring the case to credit rating agencies. The defaulter's case may be referred to the court, which may impose a fine of $10,000.

As can be seen, child support matters can be quite complicated. Those who are struggling to either recover or pay child support should consider consulting with a Massachusetts family law attorney who may be able to help them find relief.

Source: Mass.Gov, "Information for Parents Who Pay Child Support," Accessed on Nov.9, 2014

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Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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