After parents divorce or separate, their separation agreement or court orders will likely include provisions for spousal maintenance or child support. Both parents are required to follow court orders and court-approved separation agreements. If either party fails to provide their required payments, this can put the other parent and their children in significant financial issues. If your co-parent is failing to pay child support, there are potential legal options available to you.
What Agency Enforces Child Support Court Orders?
Both state and federal laws enforce child support, but much of this is dealt with at the state level. Enforcement of child support payments is handled by Child Support Services (CSS) in the Kansas Department for Children and Families. In addition to enforcing child support orders, CSS also establishes paternity, creates and modifies child support obligations, and serves as an intermediary location for parents’ payments.
If you aren’t receiving the support payments and talking with your co-parent hasn’t worked, you can work with CSS for enforcement. This can take time, however, and a child support enforcement attorney can determine what legal solutions may be more effective for your situation.
When Do Payments Need to Be Enforced?
Enforcement becomes necessary if the paying parent’s support is in arrears. This occurs in Kansas when a payment is late for more than 30 days. If the parent has been paying through the CSS intermediary system, this will lead to CSS enforcement and collection services. A partial payment does not prevent this. Any unpaid support will count towards the 30 days timeline.
How Payments Could Be Enforced
CSS can work to collect child support payments from parents in several ways. This includes:
- Withholding Income Orders
One of the most effective ways to enforce child support payments is through income withholding. When payments are made through CSS’s Kansas Payment Center, the CSS can note late payments and issue a notification to the non-paying party’s employer. The employer must then withhold the amount of support payments from the party’s paycheck. This may include back payments. The receiving parent then gets the support payments directly from the other parent’s paycheck.
However, this method is not effective if the paying parent is unemployed, self-employed, or not permanently employed. CSS may need to use other methods to enforce payments.
- State Administrative Penalties
CSS can take administrative action without court approval. They may suspend the non-paying parent’s driver’s license and suspend any professional or recreational licenses. Once the parent pays child support, their licenses will be reinstated. CSS may also place liens on the party’s house, car, property, or other assets. A lien prevents the party from selling or refinancing those assets until support is paid. CSS could also file reports to credit bureaus to alert them of the debts and failure to pay support.
- Federal Referral
CSS can also refer non-payment cases to the U.S. Department of State. If a paying parent owes more than $2,500 in back child support, the federal government can deny the parent’s passport. It can also intercept state or federal tax returns and refunds. If the parent moves to another state to intentionally avoid child support, CSS and the federal government can cross state lines to enforce payments or even press criminal charges.
- Contempt of Court
If a paying parent is refusing to pay child support, the state may begin contempt of court proceedings. The non-paying parent is required to appear in front of the court and explain why they have disobeyed a court order. For a first offense, the court is likely to offer a way to repay the back payments plus penalties. For repeated offenses, the court may charge the parent for contempt of court, which can result in fines and jail time. Being charged with contempt of court can also impact a parent’s custody or visitation rights.
Q: How Long Can You Go Without Paying Child Support in Kansas?
A: If a parent fails to pay their child support payments for 30 days, it is considered in arrears and delinquent. This is true even if the parent has paid a portion of the support. After 30 days without full payment, Child Support Services (CSS) will begin to take collection action if the payments are made through their service.
Q: What Is the Average Child Support Payment in Kansas?
A: Kansas uses the income share method to calculate child support payments, and the exact amount will rely on the income of each parent and the financial needs of the child or children. The court will determine the monthly cost of raising a child and the combined income of the parents. The court will then split the cost of raising a child proportionally with each parent’s share of combined income and the time they spend with custody of the child.
Q: Does Terminating Parental Rights Stop Child Support in Kansas?
A: Both parents have a financial responsibility to their children. In order to terminate or give up parental rights, both the court and the parent must determine it to be in the child’s interests. It is not considered in a child’s interests when a parent is looking to terminate their parental rights to avoid paying child support. Courts in Kansas have determined that parents cannot voluntarily give up parental rights to avoid support payments. There are ways to modify child support payments if a paying parent is having difficulty meeting them.
Q: Is Child Support Based on Income in Kansas?
A: Yes, child support is partially based on the parents’ income in Kansas. The court will determine payments based on the percentage of total income each parent earns. Income earned by new spouses or partners does not impact this calculation. If you are not sure how the court will calculate child support payments in your separation, an attorney can help you determine what may influence the case.
Ensuring Your Family Is Supported
If you are unsure how to handle non-payment of child support or are a parent struggling to meet your payments, an attorney can help you determine your next steps. At Stange Law Firm, we want to provide you with the legal support and advice you need to support your family without placing either parent or their children in financial hardship. Contact our team today to see how we can help you enforce or modify child support.