Some parents have the misconception that visitation with their children will be affected if they are not receiving or paying the court-ordered child support payments. This is a misconception, as failure to pay child support does not result in a loss of time with your children.
However, every parent does have a legal duty to support their children. Failure to pay child support, or failure to pay on time, can trigger the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to take any of the following measures to resolve the issue:
- Asking the court that you be held in contempt.
When held in contempt, you are notified of the Court’s sanctions until you comply with the court order. Judges can, and will, put you in jail for non-payment of child support.
- Garnishing your employment, unemployment, or worker’s compensation wages.
The Office of Child Support Enforcement can submit a Wage Garnishment Order and your wages—income, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation wages, etc.—will be garnished. The law in Maryland allows for the full amount of child support to be garnished, as well as a portion of any arrearages owed.
- Garnishing your bank accounts.
The OCSE will go after any monies in a checking or savings account to which your name is attached. Accounts jointly held with another person are not protected from garnishment to pay child support.
- Intercepting any federal or state income tax refunds.
Tax refunds, whether federal or state, can be intercepted to pay any unpaid child support. If you owe child support payments and you expect to receive a tax refund, your refund will be sent to the Office of Child Support Enforcement to be applied to your child support payments.
- Intercepting lottery winnings.
If you hit the Mega Millions, Powerball, or have any other lottery winnings to which you have to submit to the Maryland Lottery in order to receive your winnings, the lottery office will first ensure that you are not on the list for unpaid child support before issuing any winnings.
- Reporting unpaid child support to the three credit bureaus.
Any negative reports to the credit bureaus will result in a lower credit score and have an impact on your ability to obtain a loan or possible employment, or to purchase new items.
- Reporting unpaid child support to the MVA.
This can result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
- Reporting unpaid child support to professional and recreational licensing centers.
This includes a report to the Federal Government for all those whom have a security clearance. If you hold a security clearance, be aware that failing to pay child support can result in the revocation of your clearance.
- Denying the reissuance of a passport.
If you travel often or are heading out of the country on a vacation, the OCSE can request that your passport be revoked or that your renewal request be denied until you are current on child support payments.
For Legal Advice in Maryland, Contact Andalman & Flynn
I encourage all of my clients, whether you are the recipient or the payee, to enroll a child support order with the Office of Child Support Enforcement. This allows the Child Support Office to keep track of all payments so that support is not an issue for the parties.