All over the country, nonresidential parents owe billions of dollars in child support to residential parents. In fact, arrearage is the norm in these cases. Only 44 percent of child support obligees receive the full, court-ordered amount.
For the most part, Minnesota has debtor-friendly laws. It is difficult or impossible to seize assets to pay creditors, especially if the debtor files bankruptcy. Judges are happy to resolve legal disputes, but they are hesitant to be debt collectors. Many judges believe that such action is outside their scope of responsibilities. Since debtors prisons are illegal in the United States, they may be right.
But family support, especially child support, is different. If an obligor owes delinquent support, a Buffalo child custody lawyer can show the obligee a number of options. They range from attention-getting to almost draconian, so generally, you can pick the level of action that’s best for you and your family.
Order to Obtain Employment
The old “I can’t pay child support because I don’t have a job” excuse is not very effective these days. Statewide, unemployment is at a 10-year low. In some areas, such as St. Paul, it is even lower. Because of this environment, many Wright County family law judges are more willing than ever to issue orders to obtain employment, if all three of the following conditions are present:
- No Employment Verification: In this context, odd jobs and perhaps even independent contracting gigs, like driving for Uber, may not be “employment.” Typically, a judge requires evidence of steady employment, like a few recent paystubs.
- Substantial Arrearage: The obligor must owe at least three times one months’ support obligation. So, if the monthly obligation is $1,000, a judge will not sign an order to obtain employment unless the obligor owes at least $3,000. Both child support and alimony count here.
- Failure to Comply with Payment Plan: Many times, obligors promise to add catch-up payments to their monthly obligations. If they make empty promises, a judge may step in.
Generally, the orders require obligors to find jobs that pay approximately what they were making before. Additionally, if the obligor does not make at least five verified attempts to find a job each week, the judge will be very unhappy.
Tax Refund Intercept
This collection method is quite popular during the annual tax season. It may be even more popular this year. Due to the 2017 tax code reforms, many people may be getting larger refunds this year.
A tax refund intercept may not satisfy the entire arrearage amount. But it is extremely easy to collect, as the IRS is quite cooperative in these situations. Tax refund intercept is also a good way for a Buffalo child custody lawyer to learn the obligor’s current address and perhaps even bank account information. This information could be extremely useful in other related family law situations.
Drivers’ License Suspension
Another tax refund intercept plus is that there is no minimum amount. That’s not true in most other cases, including drivers’ license suspension. To take this action, the aforementioned triple arrearage requirement applies. Plus, the order must include a 90-day stay, so the obligor has time to set up a payment arrangement.
This measure may not work right away. Most people who have suspended licenses ignore them and keep driving anyway. But it’s only a matter of time before the obligor gets pulled over or needs to renew the drivers’ license. To move things along faster, the suspension order might also include a motor vehicle lien.
Buffalo Child Custody Lawyers and Professional License Suspension
This enforcement measure is something like an old stick of dynamite. It could do a lot of damage, or it could blow up in your face.
Many people count on a law license, nursing license, medical license, or another state-issued license to make money. Additionally, if they practice the profession while that license is suspended, they could face disciplinary sanctions. So, an occupational license suspension sometimes gets the obligor’s attention faster than anything else.
Then again, the whole thing could backfire. If obligors lose their earning ability, they may petition the court for a child support reduction. More than likely, a Wright County family law judge will at least seriously consider that request.
A Buffalo child custody lawyer will look at all the financial, emotional, and other aspects before making a recommendation in this area.
This method often supplements one of the methods discussed above. Assume Ralph owes Alice $5,000 in child support. Alice works with a Buffalo child custody lawyer, and faced with possible drivers’ license suspension, Ralph agrees to a payment plan. The judge may also order Ralph to post a bond, perhaps one month’s child support, so Alice will have money if he falls behind again.
Sometimes, a Buffalo child custody lawyer can include a bond payment order in the divorce decree. Typically, Ralph or the other potential delinquent dad must be self-employed and have a history of nonpayment.
Count on Savvy Attorneys
Obligees who are owed child support money have several legal options in Minnesota. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo child custody lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After-hours visits are available.