If child support is not being paid as set forth in a valid court order there are a few steps that may be taken to obtain child support. First, in almost all cases (excluding those involving a protection order or restraining order), the unpaid party should provide the other party with written notice of any unpaid support. This notice should set forth the amount owed, and ask that the other party pay. In some cases, written notice to the other party is all it takes to obtain payment for overdue support. The notice can also be beneficial if your case ends up in court, as it can be used to show the court that you tried to solve the problem without involving the court. If the party will not pay after notice has been given, the party receiving maintenance has options as to the next step.
One option is to contact the Division of Child Support and see what services they can offer to help you obtain back support. Another option is to (with the assistance of an attorney, or on your own) file a motion for contempt. If, after reviewing the evidence and the arguments of the parties the court agrees that the paying party is in contempt, the court may reduce the amount owed to a judgment and garnish the wages of the party in contempt.
After contempt of the order of child support is proven, the unpaid portion of the child support debt become liens against all property of the owing party. This means that the party will be treated with the priority of a secured creditor. RCW 26.18.055. This can greatly increase the likelihood of the indebted party being repaid. This lien can impact the ability of the other party to obtain credit. The unpaid portion may also be obtained by a wage assignment. There are other consequences for the non-payment of child support that the court may decide to order.
Back child support can be obtained even after the child for whom support was paid has reached the age of majority. However, there are time limits for when back child support may be obtained. If you are owed back child support, and are interested in obtaining the money you are owed, you may want to speak with a family law attorney. We would be honored if you chose to contact us.