Enforcing child support orders in the state of Missouri

Often, family law courts in St. Louis, and throughout Missouri, order child support for parents who have never been married, or those who are divorced. These monetary payments are typically made from noncustodial parents to custodial parents. They are ordered to ensure that both parents bear the financial responsibility of raising their children.

While most people who are ordered to make such payments comply, there are those who fall into arrears. This may be by choice, or due to unavoidable circumstances, such as the loss of a job or a change in earnings. Regardless of the reasons why a parent is delinquent on their payments, there are a number of enforcement options available to the Missouri Family Support Division, or FSD, to encourage parents to pay.

Income withholding

Wage withholding is one of the most effective ways for the FSD to enforce child support orders. The Missouri Bar points out that these orders may be issued when parents owe at least the total amount of one month's support obligation. Wage withholding orders require people's employers to withhold the ordered support amount from their paychecks. An additional portion may also be withheld to repay delinquencies.

License suspensions

Another enforcement option available to the FSD is license suspensions. According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, the FSD may suspend the driver's licenses and professional licenses of parents who are behind on their child support. This may impact their ability to get around, as well as their ability to work and earn income. Additionally, parents who are in arrears on their child support may also have their recreational licenses, including their hunting and fishing licenses.

Liens

In some cases, the FSD may file liens against properties held by parents who owe past due child support. Such properties may include land, homes and vehicles. Generally, these liens are not removed until parents are caught up on their support obligation. Consequently, they cannot transfer or sell these properties until their child support problems are resolved.

Contempt

Perhaps the most serious method for enforcement of child support in Missouri is through a contempt of court order. The court may deem a parent who is in arrears in contempt for failing to appear, willfully not complying with their support orders or any other number of reasons. This may result in jail time for parents. Sometimes, nonpayment cases may also be referred to the St. Louis circuit attorney's office for criminal prosecution.

Seeking legal representation

Not receiving their child support payments may compromise the ability of Missouri custodial parents to provide for their children. For noncustodial parents, it may result in serious legal issues. Therefore, those who are having problems with their child support may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their options, as well as help them to pursue enforcement or modifications.