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How does Washington handle child support enforcement?

While most parents in Washington adhere to their child support agreements, there are instances in which the parent who is supposed to be paying is accused of becoming delinquent in payments. A custodial parent who is not receiving what he or she is supposed to according to the law needs to understand that there are options to receive payments and that the parent who is failing to pay may face penalties for it.

When the parents of a child or children separate, barring shared custody, one parent will have to pay child support. If that is not done as required, the parent who is not receiving payment has the right to contact child support enforcement to try and get the delinquent payments. There are numerous tactics that can be used to try and get the payments. These can range from the attachment of wages to the possibility of jail time. Some parents try to claim that they're not working and they can't afford to make the payments. If they're receiving unemployment, that can also be garnished. Workers' compensation, pensions unprotected under federal law and funds that are in a financial institution can also be attached to pay the custodial parent.

If the parent owns property such as a house or a vehicle, these items can have a lien placed on them. Goods that are kept in safety deposit boxes can be seized, as can goods that are for sale at public auctions. The individual can be reported to the website for the Division of Child Support's most wanted people who have not paid what they're supposed to. In some instances, Support Enforcement Officers cannot be involved due to federal law. These are referred to as "automated actions." They include denial of a passport and reporting to the credit bureau.

Given the importance of children being adequately supported when parents are no longer together, it's understandable that the penalties are taken so seriously and can be wide-ranging. The attempts to get parents to make their payments are fluid and new strategies are being crafted to solve the problem. Of course, when the unfortunate occurs and a parent isn't paying what is required to be paid, speaking to a legal professional may be informative.

Source: dshs.wa.gov, "ENFORCEMENT," accessed Sept. 28, 2014

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