How to collect child support
After you get a child support court order, the other parent must start making child support payments. The court order will include a date that payments should start. If the other parent does not pay support, there are steps you can take to collect the support you're owed.
Need help collecting child support?
Your Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) can help enforce a child support order.
How you get the support payments
Often payments come directly from the parent's pay
Whenever a judge orders someone to pay child support, they usually also sign an Income Withholding Order (form FL-195). This order tells the parent's employer to take the support payments out of their pay. The employer then sends the money to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) who then sends it to you.
You can agree to get support payments directly from the parent
Some people agree to this if the other parent has a history of making payments on time and having their employer pay will cause them hardship. If the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) is part of your case, then someone from that agency will need to agree as well. The judge will need to sign the agreement to make it part of the order.
If you agree to get payments directly from the parent, you can ask for an Income Withholding Order to be put on hold (stayed). Then, if the other parent ever stops paying support to you, you can ask the judge to end the stay of the order. This means you can have it sent to the employer so they can start to take the support out of their paycheck.
How to get an Income Withholding Order or have it put on hold
If the parent that pays support has a regular employer, the judge will usually sign an Income Withholding Order when you get a child support order. If you do not have one and want one, you can submit the order for the judge to sign.
The LCSA will handle getting an Income Withholding Order. They will have the order served within 15 days of locating the other parent's employer. Once the employer receives the Order, they have 10 days to take the money from the parent's next paycheck.
The employer must send the money to the SDU. The SDU then sends the child support to you. It will not come from the employer or the LCSA.
1. Get a signed copy of an Income Withholding Order
If you asked in your support agreement or at a hearing on support for an earnings assignment, the judge will sign an Income Withholding for Support (form FL-195). Make at least 2 copies of the Order.
Ask your court's Family Law Facilitator for help with your Income Withholding Order. They can help you with the form. You can also read an information sheet for help with the form.
2. Serve the employer and other parent
After the judge signs the Income Withholding Order, have someone over 18, not you, mail
- A copy of the Order along with a blank Request for Hearing Regarding Earnings Assignment (form FL-450) to the other parent's employer. Call the employer to find out where to mail it
- A copy of the Income Withholding Order to the other parent
Have the person who mails it fill out and sign 2 Proof of Service by Mail (form FL-335) forms, one for the employer and one for the parent. File both forms with the court.
3. The employer takes the support from the parent's pay
Once the employer receives the Order, they have 10 days to take the money from the parent's next paycheck.
4. Support is sent to the State and then to you
The employer sends the money to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The SDU then sends the child support to you. It will not come from the employer. If you have any questions, contact the SDU at 1-866-901-3212 or visit the State Disbursement Unit's website.
You can agree to put an Income Withholding Order on hold as part of a new child support agreement. If you already have a child support order and don't want to change it, you can create a separate agreement to put the Income Withholding Order on hold.
If you want it to be part of a new child support order
You can prepare an agreement on Stipulation to Establish or Modify Child Support Order (form FL-350) (form Fl-350). You can check the box on the form if you agree to stay the Income Withholding Order. Get instructions on how to prepare a child support agreement.
If you already have a child support order, but only need the Income Withholding Order put on hold
If you already have a child support order and don't need to change anything else in it, you can create a separate agreement to put the Income Withholding Order on hold (stayed).
1. Sign an agreement. You and the parent can write up an agreement that you both sign stating that you agree to "stay the service of the income withholding order." If the LCSA is part of your case, someone from that agency will need to approve and sign the agreement.
2. The other parent fills out a court form The other parent fills out a Stay of Service of Earnings Assignment Order (form FL-455). Attach the signed agreement to the form.
3. Make copies and file the form. Make at least 1 copy of the form and agreement. File the original with the clerk. If the judge agrees with your request, they will sign the Stay of Service.
If the other parent stops making payments, you can ask the judge to end (terminate) the stay by filling out page 2 of form FL-455 and filing it with the clerk.
If the other parent is not paying support
The parent will owe interest on any unpaid support. The interest rate for unpaid support is 10% per year. It works like interest on a credit card.
Get help collecting support and any interest owed
You can ask the LCSA to help you collect support and interest. They can enforce a child support order in every state in the US and in many countries. They have access to many databases to find where someone works or has money. The LCSA has many ways to help collect support. For example,
- Take income tax refunds
- Report the unpaid support to a credit agency
- Have money taken from someone's bank accounts
- Suspend someone's driver's license or professional license
- Put a lien on a property (like a house)
- Have the parent's Passport application denied or not renewed
If you already have an Income Withholding Order or can't get one because the person doesn't have a regular employer (that you know of), then it's often easiest to open a case with the LCSA so they can help you enforce the order. You can also ask your court's Family Law Facilitator for information about ways to collect support.
If you do not want to do that, your next step is often to ask the judge for an order that says exactly how much is owed in unpaid support (called arrearages). Then, you can ask the judge to order that the parent makes a monthly payment on the amount unpaid in addition to their monthly payments for child support.
Fill out and file your court forms
- Request for Order (form FL-300)
- Application to Determine Arrearages (form FL-490)
- Declaration of Payment History (form FL-420)
- Payment History Attachment (form FL-421) to show the overdue support amounts
On your Form FL-300, check the box at item 8 (“Other Relief”) and write in “Determine arrears and set arrears payment of $ (write in a reasonable amount).”
After you file the forms, you need to have someone mail a copy of your papers to the other parent. A judge will decide on your court date whether to change the amount. Get step-by-step instructions on how to file and serve your forms, and prepare for your court date.
Get free help
Your court's Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center can help you with Income Withholding Orders and answer questions about child support.