Ensuring that non-custodial parents pay child support is sometimes a challenge for the justice system, and states have various measures in place to enforce child support payment arrangements. In many states, parents who fail to pay child support can have certain funds garnished and can be sent to prison. According to a report in The New York Times, the threat of prison is believed to be an effective incentive for parents who have the ability to pay but refuse to do so.
Social Security income is usually safe from garnishment for debts such as credit cards or other unpaid personal debts. However, for those who owe back child support in Massachusetts and most other states, certain types of Social Security income can be garnished to repay this type of debt.
Massachusetts parents may be interested to learn that of the $14.3 billion in unpaid child support in 2011, 32 percent of custodial fathers failed to receive any of the child support they had been awarded versus 25 percent of custodial mothers. The assertion, backed by information from the U.S. Census Bureau, suggests that common beliefs about child support and who does and does not pay may be in error.
Even if a parent is in jail, he or she can still be ordered by a Massachusetts court to pay child support. The process works differently depending on whether there was an existing court order for support at the time the person went to jail.
Massachusetts parents may be interested in some information about the scope of child support and what expenses it covers. The rules for child support that courts follow often go beyond a child's basic needs.
Many parents may believe that, once an order for the financial well-being of minor children has been determined, the matter has been settled once and for all. However, it is possible to request a modification of child support if circumstances warrant. Parents in Massachusetts who are struggling to make their support payments or who believe that the ordered amount is not adequate may be interested in learning more.
Although it did not occur here in Massachusetts, our state's residents may have heard about a campaign that a county from another state put on. The campaign consisted of placing information on flyers that were then attached to pizza boxes. That information was related to individuals who were considered to be the "most wanted" for child support arrears.
Charlie Sheen has successfully received modification of child support after his ex-wife, Brooke Mueller, experienced a drug overdose earlier this year. In Massachusetts, an order for support is eligible for a modification review every three years, or when there is a significant change in the needs of the child/children or the noncustodial parent's income. In this case, modification of the child support for Charlie Sheen's twin sons was prompted by Brook Mueller's drug overdose and then perpetuated by her subsequent stay in a psychiatric facility.
Child support awards are often viewed by the custodial parent as being for too little while, at the same time, child support awards are often viewed by the noncustodial parent as being for too much. Sometimes, though, both parents are in agreement on the amount of child support until something happens that is life-changing for one of the parents. Then, as seen in a recent case, the time that it takes for a court to modify child support ends up negatively impacting both parents and, more importantly, the child. For those in Massachusetts who have been affected by the recent economic downturn, the following story may sound all too familiar.