Enforcing A Child Support Order: Help from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue

Photo of Barbara L. Drury

Recognizing a child’s need/right to receive financial support from both parents – even when those parents are apart – the DOR employs various methods to assist families in enforcing court-ordered child support obligations.

For example, upon receipt of a Court’s child support order with an income withholding provision, DOR will issue an “Income Withholding Order,” which notifies the employer of the obligor (the person ordered to pay child support) to withhold child support from the obligor’s paycheck and forward it directly to DOR. DOR records payments that it receives from an obligor’s employer and forwards those payments on to the child support recipient (the person ordered to receive the child support / usually the primary custodial parent). In order to maintain proper recording, DOR instructs parents who are receiving child support in this manner not to accept payments directly from the payor/obligor.

In cases where the obligor does not pay child support or pays child support in an amount less than what is ordered, an arrears is established. DOR records the arrears owed and may seek to increase amounts withheld from an obligor’s paycheck by 25% until the arrears is paid down.

Some other methods the DOR may employ to enforce a child support order and help a recipient collect on a child support debt include:

• Placing a lien on the obligor’s property (either real or personal);

• Seizing the obligor’s financial assets;

• Suspending the obligor’s driver’s license(s) or motor vehicle registration(s);

• Seeking denial of the obligor’s passport by referring the matter to the US Department of State;

• Intercepting the obligor’s state and federal income tax refunds, insurance claims, Worker’s Compensation or Unemployment Compensation payments; or

• Seeking a civil contempt order form the Court. In connection with a contempt action, a Court may: (i) Order an obligor to participate in a job-search program under the Court’s supervision; and/or (ii) Order the obligor incarcerated until the debt is paid.

For additional information concerning DOR’s child support enforcement methods, please see the DOR’s website.


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