Having a court order for your former partner to pay child support is one thing. Actually receiving that money from them can be a bit more challenging, however. If your ex hasn’t kept up with his or her child support obligation, Minnesota has several different options for enforcing the order. Which one of these will be appropriate for you will depend on how far in arrears your ex is on support and the individual facts of your situation. The options include (but are not limited to) the following:
Contempt Proceedings: A child support agency can ask the court to find your ex in contempt of court. If your ex is found to be in contempt, he or she can be ordered to serve a jail sentence. Before you start happily imagining your ex being led away to jail in handcuffs, bear in mind that the court may order that the jail sentence be suspended if the parent starts making payments according to a payment plan or complies with other conditions that the judge imposes. This is an appropriate enforcement option if your ex has the ability to pay his or her support obligation but is simply not doing so. However, contempt proceedings can’t be brought against your ex if he or she is in jail or otherwise incapable of paying child support.
Credit bureau reporting: The child support agency can also report your ex to the credit bureaus, affecting your ex’s credit rating, in some situations. This won’t be done, though, if your ex filed for bankruptcy before October 17, 2005 and remains protected by bankruptcy proceedings.
Income withholding: Your ex’s pay can be automatically withheld. All newly-entered orders for child support must now address whether income withholding is to be done or waived. The employer can be held in contempt of court if it fails to properly withhold income. If withholding is waived, it is usually due to the court’s finding that income withholding would not be in the best interest of the child.
Driver’s license suspension: If your ex owes arrears of at least three times his or her total monthly support obligation or is not complying with a written payment plan, the child support agency can ask for suspension of the parent’s driver’s license. This remedy can’t be applied to parents who receive welfare benefits in the form of cash assistance or parents who filed bankruptcy before October 17, 2005 and remain protected by bankruptcy proceedings.
As you can see there are a number of ways that a Minnesota court can enforce a child support order.
Any comments or questions? Feel free to post them and I’ll do my best to answer them.