Child Support Arrears in Westborough
From daycare costs and grocery bills to housing and clothing, single parents often rely on the child support they receive to help pay the monthly expenses related to child-raising. Parents and kids alike can suffer from financial strain and emotional stress brought on by a co-parent’s failure to timely pay court-ordered support. When the paying parent’s situation changes in a manner that prevents him or her from being able to meet the child support obligation, it is that parent’s burden to file for a modification seeking relief from the prior order. Until a modification is filed, the arrears incurred will just continue to grow. When a parent simply does not pay his or her child support because they do not want to, there can be significant consequences.
The state takes overdue child support seriously because every child has a right to receive financial support from both parents. Because of this, parents may have several options for obtaining unpaid support and enforcing future obligations and a parent who is refusing to pay their child support obligation could even find themselves in jail.
With over 25 combined years of exclusive family law experience, one of our dedicated lawyers can help you complete the complicated financial affidavits required by the state and petition to recover child support arrears in Westborough. Additionally, the legal professionals at O’Connor Family Law can help parents struggling to make payments request support modifications and develop catch-up payment plans.
Options for Obtaining Missed Child Support Payments
When child support goes through the state’s enforcement agency, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) is then responsible for tracking payments and assessing interest and penalties for past-due child support obligations. When servicing a child support order, DOR can also help parents obtain overdue payments or modify orders when employment income has changed. DOR also has a number of remedies when dealing with child support arrears that it can take without court intervention, such as suspending the paying parent’s license, levying bank accounts or tax refunds, or seeking an increase in the base child support order to help pay the arrearage amount. Sometimes, a complaint for contempt must be filed with the court though instead.
In such cases, your dedicated legal counsel may ask the family court to enforce the full amount of child support arrears by forcing the sale of an obligor’s property or requiring the withdrawal from retirement accounts they hold. Courts may also mandate paycheck withholdings with direct deposit or require the defaulting parent to purchase an annuity by prepaying future obligations. When a parent continuously defaults on his or her financial obligation to the other party, it is possible that this parent can be held in contempt and incarcerated until they pay either a purge amount or the entire arrearage.
Challenging Unpaid Child Support Obligations in Westborough
Many parents want to support their children but suffer from unavoidable financial hardships. Although many people in these types of situations often hold off on taking any legal action hoping the situation will correct itself quickly, doing so can often create a financial disaster as arrears continue to build. Within a modification of child support, you can file a motion for a temporary order to decrease the amount of child support owed. If the court questions whether the decrease in income was voluntary, you may find yourself in a situation where the court refuses to decrease the support until later on in the case. Although having a lawyer with you can be expensive, ensuring you put your best argument forward in these situations is very important.
When defending a contempt action due to arrears that built up while you were out of work, courts often will look for evidence of the changed circumstance that caused the inability to pay, such as medical bills or a lost job, and will then often consider whether the payer made at least some good-faith support payments rather than a complete refusal to provide any amount of support. An attorney can help parents in Westborough struggling to pay child support avoid future arrears by requesting modifications during times of financial strain. In these situations, our extraordinary team may also help parents:
- Seek for a child support modification
- Arrange a payment plan for any arrears
- Challenge support orders prior to legal paternity being established
- Negotiate a lump-sum payment plan for a reduced amount
- Claim fraud or inaccuracies in payment and arrears calculations
- Show actual or good faith attempts to make payments
Even in financial hardship cases, you should immediately contact a lawyer if you cannot make a child support payment as ordered. Courts will not, and often legally cannot, forgive or reduce child support arrears for a date before the date the other party is served with the modification request. This means the legal documentation needs to be filed, docketed (recorded within the court’s filing system), sent back to you with a summons, and served on the other party before the court can amend anything. This is why it is important to act immediately. It is easier to dismiss a complaint for modification if your financial circumstance changes for the better than to try to figure out how to pay a significant amount of arrears after they have accrued.
Contact a Westborough Attorney for Help with Child Support Arrears
In child support enforcement cases, courts must distinguish between parents struggling to make payments and those who intentionally and illegally refuse to financially support their children. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you during these disputes.
Addressing a missed child support payment now can save both you and a co-parent from additional financial stress, legal fees, and future litigation. An attorney can help you understand your right to obtain child support arrears in Westborough and ensure that you correctly complete the required financial worksheets that must be submitted within any contempt or modification case dealing with child support.