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How Massachusetts handles child support enforcement

In Massachusetts, parents who share a child and are no longer together as a couple might have one parent with custody and the other parent paying child support. This can often be a contentious and difficult circumstance that is rife with difficulty if there is a change in circumstances or other issues. Parents who are ordered to pay child support and are accused of delinquent payments can face various actions on the part of the state to try and get the payments for the other parent and child.

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has numerous methods to facilitate enforcement of unpaid child support without needing to go to court. The following tactics can be used: increasing the amount that is withheld from the supporting parent's paycheck by 25 percent; placing a lien on real estate or personal property; conducting a seizure of financial assets; suspending a license to drive, a business license, or a trade license; having the U.S. Department of State deny a passport; seize a bank account; or intercept tax returns, workers' compensation, unemployment or insurance claims; refer the issue to credit reporting agencies; moving forward with contempt of court proceedings; and referring the case to be prosecuted as a criminal matter for delinquent payments with a fine of as much as $10,000 or five years incarceration.

A parent who is accused of failure to pay child support can have issues at work, but there are certain things that an employer cannot do. This includes not being: fired, demoted, penalized, suspended, or charged more than one dollar each pay period because child support is paid through wage assignment. The employer can deduct as much as 65 percent of disposable income or 55 percent if the spouse is being supported or other children are in the household.

Parents who are having a problem receiving or paying their child support order in full need to have a grasp of what can be done to make sure the payments are made. Child support enforcement takes this very seriously. When confronted with child support problems, it is wise to discuss the matter with a legal professional experienced in dealing with unpaid child support.

Source: mass.gov, "Information for Parents Who Pay Child Support -- Enforcing a child support order; Your rights with your employer," accessed on Dec. 24, 2015

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