Nationally, only about half of the NCP’s with support orders receive full payments. A NCP may pay the support order for a while and then stop. Sometimes, the NCP will make only partial payments, skip payments or never pay at all. When an account is not paid on time and in full, the account is referred to as delinquent. The Child Support Program identifies delinquent accounts and takes actions allowed by law to be sure that child support payments are made on time and in full. The second is to collect additional money to make up for those payments the NCP missed (arrears). Enforcement can also mean making sure that the NCP maintains health insurance coverage for the child(ren) as ordered by the court.
There are two categories of enforcement action:
The Support Unit program initiates the following enforcement methods administratively. Some or all of these methods may be used, depending on the specifics of your case and the information on your case record about the NCP. These methods can be highly effective in collecting delinquent support:
Income Execution - requires the NCP’s employer to deduct child support payments from the NCP’s paycheck and send them to the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Income execution can also be used to deduct support payments from unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) or other benefits the NCP receives. Income execution works best if the NCP receives a regular paycheck or UIB’s. However, one out of every five workers does not receive a regular paycheck. If the NCP is self-employed or earns money “off the books,” income executions might not work and enforcement action by the court might be necessary.
Tax Refund Offset - every year the CSEU program sends a list of delinquent accounts to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF). Eligibility for state tax refund offset is $50 in unpaid child support and for federal it is $150 for TANF cases and $500 for non-TANF cases. NCP’s who are expecting federal or state tax refunds will not receive them if they do not pay their child support debts first. Instead, the refund money will be sent to the CSEU to pay the delinquent child support.
Medical Support - If the NCP was ordered to provide health insurance for the child(ren) and not done so, the CSEU will require the NCP’s employer to notify them as to whether health coverage is available, enroll the child in family coverage which may be available to the NCP, deduct any employee paid health insurance premiums from their wages and provide the Custodial Parent (CP) with the documentation necessary to receive services.
Credit Report Agency Process – The CSEU will report a NCP who owes $1,000 or more in unpaid child support to credit reporting agencies. If the NCP is reported to a credit-reporting agency as a delinquent payer, it may affect his/her personal credit rating. This forces the NCP who wants credit to pay child support.
Lottery Prize Intercept – If a NCP owes at least $50 in unpaid child support and wins $600 or more in the lottery, the amount owed will be deducted from the prize money and sent to the CSEU to pay off the child support debt.
Property Execution is a method that allows the SCU to take a NCP’s liquid assets such as a bank account to pay delinquent support. The SCU can require the bank to freeze the account so the NCP cannot withdraw any money. The bank would then be required to transfer the amount of delinquent support from the NCP’s account to the SCU to pay the child support debt.
Driver’s License Suspension – A respondent’s New York State issued driver’s license can be suspended if they owe an amount equal to or greater than four months of their current obligation amount. The suspension will not be lifted until such time as the NCP pays all that is owed or enters into a payment arrangement with the SCU.
Referral to New York State Department of Taxation and Finance - A respondent who owes at least four month’s obligation or $500 and is not paying by income execution may be referred to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finances (DTF) for further enforcement. Based on the referral, DTF may file tax warrants and seize and sell property (e.g. cars, boats, houses and businesses, etc).
When income execution and/or administrative mechanisms are not successful, court intervention for support enforcement is required. Court enforcement requires the filing of a violation petition with family court. A violation petition asks the court to take action against the NCP who has not paid court-ordered child support. The NCP will get a summons to appear in court on a specific day for a hearing. At the hearing, the court will listen to testimony, examine the SCU payment records (printout) and make a decision. Outcomes of the hearing may include:
- A money judgment represents a decision by the court that the NCP is behind in child support payments in a specified amount. This is a mandatory provision.
- Lien- The money judgment is recorded with the count clerk’s office that creates a lien on the NCP’s property. The lien requires the debt to be paid before the NCP’s property can be sold or transferred.
- Cash Deposit requires the NCP to deposit money (up to three year’s child support payments with the SCU. Payments can be taken out of this deposit if the NCP fails to pay support on time in the future.
- Professional, business or occupational license suspension- The court has the authority to order a hearing for the suspension of the NCP’s state issued professional, business or occupational license if support arrears are equivalent to or greater than the amount of current support for four months.
- Jail- The NCP may be committed to jail for up to six months. If the NCP did not appear in court for the hearing, the court can issue a default order and grant any enforcement remedies discussed above. The court may also request a warrant of arrest, signed by a family court judge, for the NCP.