Child support cases are sometimes marred with disputes, with one parent feeling like the amount is too low while the other feels it’s too high. As a result of these disagreements, child support falls by the wayside, leaving children vulnerable. Failure to pay child support can be a criminal offense in Maryland.
If you’re facing charges for non-payment of child support, you can consult Germantown family law attorneys for legal counsel. We can assess the situation and determine the best action to resolve it. Depending on your circumstances, we can help you create a child custody agreement that favors you.
How Are Child Support Orders Enforced in Maryland?
The Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA) is responsible for enforcing state and federal laws regarding child support. The Administration uses a non-judicial process to do the following:
- Establish the paternity of children born to unwedded parents
- Establish and modify child and medical support obligations
- Enforce child and medical support obligations
Parents paying child support do so through the CSEA, which distributes the funds through the Electronic Payment Issuance Card (EPiC) system. The program saves paying parents from the trouble of writing checks or exchanging payments with the receiving parent, eliminating the opportunity for arguments. The funds are available for use by the receiving parent immediately.
The Administration uses various enforcement tools against paying parents who don’t meet their child support obligations. However, in urgent cases, the receiving parent may find it best to hire skilled Germantown child support lawyers to help them file a petition to have a judge rule over the matter. The option can be more effective than waiting for the CSEA to resolve the issue.
What Happens If You or the Other Parent Fall Behind on Child Support in Maryland?
Section 10-203 of the Maryland Code of Family Law stipulates laws against and penalties for failure to pay child support. The Code prohibits parents from willfully failing to provide for a minor child.
Any parent who contravenes the law is guilty of a misdemeanor. If they’re convicted of the offense, they risk getting a maximum punishment of:
- 36 months in prison
- $100 in fines
Desertion of a Minor Child
Section 10-219 stipulates that any person with the care, custody, or control of a minor child commits a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the offender can get the maximum punishment of:
- 12 months in prison
- $100 in fines
Under this law, desertion of a minor occurs if the offender:
- Intends for the child to be supported by the state by becoming a public charge
- Doesn’t provide at least three years of child support
If you’re facing charges for failure to pay child support or desertion of a child, you risk getting hefty penalties. Experienced Germantown family law attorneys can help you fight the charges to protect your rights. They can also help you create a child support agreement that works in your favor for your child’s best interests.
What Steps Can the Child Support Enforcement Administration Take to Resolve the Issue?
Failure to pay child support can trigger the CSEA to take the following steps against the parent who violates the child support laws in Maryland:
- Ask the court to hold the non-paying parent in contempt: When held in contempt, the non-paying parent will be notified of the court’s sanctions until they comply with the court order. At their discretion, judges can put the parent in jail for non-payment of child support.
- Garnish their wages, whether employment, unemployment, or workers’ compensation: The CSEA can submit a Wage Garnishment Order, instructing the non-paying parent’s wages be garnished. The law makes provisions for the total child support to be garnished, including a portion of any outstanding arrears.
- Report unpaid child support to the three credit bureaus: Any negative reports to the credit bureaus results in a lower credit score for the non-paying parent. It impacts their ability to obtain a loan or possible employment.
- Deny the issuance of a passport: If the non-paying parent travels often or is heading out of the country on vacation, the CSEA can request that their license be revoked or renewal be denied until they submit child support payments.
- Intercept any federal or state income tax refunds: Federal and state tax refunds can be intercepted and directed toward child support payments. The refund will be sent to the OCSE and remitted as child support to the receiving parent.
- Garnish bank accounts: The CSEA can go after any monies you have in a savings or checking account attached to your name. Accounts held jointly with another person are not protected from garnishment for child support.
- Revoke their driver’s license: If a parent is 60 days or more behind on their child support payments, the CSEA can notify the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), which will then suspend their driver’s license.
- Intercept any lottery winnings: If a non-paying parent hits mega millions, which they have to submit to the Maryland lottery to receive the winnings, they may not receive the cash if they’re on the list for unpaid child support.
If the CSEA takes any of these legal actions against you for child support non-payment, they must send you a written notice. You have the right to hire child support lawyers in Germantown if you disagree with any action to help you resolve the issue. They can help you renegotiate the child support amount if you cannot pay for any reason.
Protect Your Rights and Your Child’s Best Interests Today
If you’re the paying parent in a child support agreement, it’s crucial to keep up with your obligation and not fall into arrearages. It will be in your best interests to contact the Child Support Enforcement Administration if you think you have a problem that may affect your ability to meet your obligation.
Skilled child support lawyers in Germantown may also help you create a better child support agreement that works for you and protects your child’s interests. We have passionate child support lawyers who can help you avoid mistakes that could get you into trouble with the authorities. Talk to us today for skilled legal advice.