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Steps you can take in Washington to enforce child support

Custodial parents often hope that the end of the divorce proceedings means the end of conflict. After all, children who witness a lot of hostility between their parents could internalize more of the negativity of the divorce. Unfortunately, not all divorces end when the judge signs your divorce decree.

It is relatively common for the non-custodial parent to refuse to pay child support. If the kids live with you, you probably incur a lot of expenses above and beyond the appointed amount of court-ordered support.

You have to provide housing, clothing, medical care and food, along with all the other necessities your children require. You may struggle to make ends meet without that child support, or you may have to deny your children items like birthday presents. Thankfully, the state of Washington does offer enforcement options for parents who are not receiving child support.

Child support is a court order, and your ex is obligated to pay

Paying child support is not a polite suggestion. It is a legal and ethical requirement of becoming a parent. After all, raising a child requires substantial investment of both time and money. If one parent no longer spends a significant amount of time with the children, he or she should have to offset that by contributing financially to those children.

When the courts issue a child support order, they expect that the paying parent conforms with all the requirements. Failing to do so could lead to contempt of court charges. There are a host of other potential consequences as well.

Enforcement options vary based on the severity of the issue

Sometimes, people lose their jobs or get demoted at work. These are real-life problems that can drastically affect someone's ability to pay child support in a timely manner. It is up to you if you want to be flexible in that situation or request state intervention.

However, in situations where your ex is intentionally attempting to dodge child support, you may need to ask the state of Washington to step in. Common tactics for avoiding child support include quitting a job to work at a place that pays under the table or bouncing from job to job before the state can garnish wages.

Once you request enforcement action, Washington state will attempt to collect the amount owed to you. Many times, this starts with an attempt at garnishing wages. If that is not an option, the state can also seize federal tax returns, state tax returns and even gambling or lottery winnings. The state can even seek a lien against property your ex owns.

In some situations, the state could refuse to issue a passport or could invalidate an existing passport due to non-payment. The same is true for professional and recreational licenses. Finally, it is also possible for a habitual non-paying parent to face criminal charges related to the non-payment of child support.

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