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Examining Maryland's child support enforcement options

When a court orders a parent to make regular and timely child support payments, there is no question that it can prove to be something of a challenge. That's because the parent will now have to start including this not insubstantial sum in their budget and, if necessary, make certain lifestyle adjustments to ensure that the payments are made.

In fact, it's very important for parents ordered to pay child support to understand that Maryland's Child Support Enforcement Administration takes these payment obligations very seriously and has a multitude of enforcement tools at its disposal to ensure that they are honored.

Tax refund offsets

At this time of the year, people are gathering their documentation and sitting down to start the sometimes arduous process of filing their tax returns. For many of them, however, the light at the end of the tunnel is the prospect of securing a sizeable return from the federal and/or state government.

It's important for those who are behind on their child support payments to understand that the CSEA is authorized by both federal and state laws to intercept income tax refunds. Indeed, a federal tax offset is automatically instituted when a parent owes a minimum of $500 in back child support and a state tax offset is automatically instituted when a parent owes a minimum of $150 in back child support.

Passport denials

Parents who owe a minimum of $2,500 in back child support shouldn't plan to make any international trips, as the CSEA is authorized to pursue passport suspension. Indeed, the passport suspension typically won't be lifted until the parent fully pays the arrears.

We'll continue to explore the enforcement tools available to the CSEA in our next family law post. In the meantime, it's important to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you require assistance with child support enforcement or modification.

Source: Maryland Department of Human Resources, "Child Support Enforcement Administration: Enforcement tools," Accessed March 7, 2015

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