Once a child support order exists, Child Support Services can help ensure it is followed. The Federal and State government provides Idaho Child Support Services several ways to make sure child support is paid. Using an automated computer system, Child Support Services tracks how much child support is owed and paid for each case. When a parent is behind in child support payments, Child Support Services determines which of the following actions to use:
- Income Withholding
- Direct Payments through Employers (Wage Withholding)
- Garnishing Accounts
- Credit Reporting
- Intercepting Lottery Winnings
- Intercepting Federal Tax Refunds
- Intercepting State Tax Refunds
- Withholding Federal Benefits and Retirement Accounts
- Suspending Licenses
- Filing Liens
- Intercepting PERSI Retirement Benefits
- Passport Denials
- Establishing Judgments
- Contempt Action
- Federal Prosecution
Income withholding is the most successful way to ensure that child support is paid. Employers withhold child support from a parent’s income and send it to Child Support Services.
Income withholding automatically begins when a parent, who is employed or receiving unemployment benefits, is at least one month behind in child support payments.
A parent’s accounts, assets, and investments may be garnished and used to pay past due child support. Garnishments must be issued by a court.
In Idaho, accounts, assets, and investments may be garnished when . . .
- The parent is at least three months (not counting the current month) or $2000 behind in child support, and
- Child Support Services is aware of a parent’s accounts, assets, or investments.
Child Support Services regularly receives information from many financial institutions. However, if you have information about the other parent’s accounts, assets, or investments; notify Child Support Services.
Child support debts are automatically reported to credit agencies when a parent owes at least $500.00 or the equivalent of three months child support payments.
Reporting child support debts damages a parent’s credit rating and affects his or her ability to secure financing. This makes buying or refinancing a home, buying a car, or getting credit cards more difficult.
Intercepting Lottery Winnings
Lottery winnings can be intercepted and used to pay child support debts. If a parent wins $500.00 or more from the lottery, the money is used to pay past due child support. The parent must owe past due child support for the lottery winnings to be intercepted. Child Support Services can intercept lottery winnings from a parent until the youngest child turns 23 years old.
Intercepting Federal Tax Refunds
When a parent who is entitled to a Federal tax refund owes more than $500.00 in past due child support, the Federal tax refund money is sent to Child Support Services.
If a custodial parent receives public assistance, then Federal tax refunds are intercepted when the non-custodial parent owes more than $150.00 in past due child support.
Intercepting State Tax Refunds
When a parent who is entitled to a State tax refund owes past due child support, the State tax refund money is sent to Child Support Services. This money can be used to pay current and past due child support.
Withholding Federal Benefits and Federal Retirement Accounts
Federal benefits and Federal retirement accounts can be used to pay child support debts. This is referred to as the Federal Administrative Offset program. The parent must owe past due child support before Federal retirement accounts and other Federal benefits are withheld.
Child Support Services begins the process to suspend a parent’s drivers, occupational, or Fish and Game license when he or she owes more than $2000.00 or the equivalent of three months child support.
A license is reinstated or the process to suspend a license is stopped when the parent signs a repayment agreement with Child Support Services. The parent must comply with the terms of the repayment agreement or Child Support Services will once again begin the process to suspend his or her license(s).
When Child Support Services files a lien against a parent, he or she is unable to sell any property (real estate) in Idaho until the lien is removed. Liens are removed only when child support debts are completely paid or when the child support case is closed.
Liens are filed when a parent . . .
- Owes $2000.00 or the equivalent of three months child support, and
- Owns real estate in Idaho.
All liens are filed with the Idaho Secretary of State. When a lien is filed, the non-custodial parent is notified about the lien.
Intercepting PERSI Retirement Benefits
When a parent owing child support receives PERSI retirement benefits or withdraws retirement funds, Child Support Services can intercept the payment to pay past due child support. The parent must owe past due support before PERSI retirement benefits are intercepted.
Passport applications are denied when a parent owes more than $2500.00 in child or spousal support. Once the denial is in place, the entire amount due must be paid before the denial is lifted and the passport issued. If a parent already has a passport, there is no way to revoke it. If an existing passport is lost, stolen, or needs to be renewed, the passport is denied until the past-due amount is paid.
When enforcement actions fail to ensure compliance with the court ordered child support obligation the next step may be to refer the case to the CSS attorney for contempt action. In accordance with Idaho statute 7-610 and Idaho Civil Rules of Procedure 75, contempt action requires the NCP to appear in court to explain to the judge why he/she has failed to comply with the order to support his/her children.
A judge can sign an order totaling past due child support, day care costs, or medical support. The amount is referred to as a “judgment.” Once a judgment is recorded with the Clerk of the Court, Child Support Services can take several actions to make sure the judgment is paid.
The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 makes it a Federal crime to willfully fail to pay a past-due child support obligation for a child living in another state. Under the felony provision of the Act the past-due obligation must be at least ten thousand ($10,000) dollars or must have remained unpaid for more than two (2) years. Under the misdemeanor provision of the Act, the past–due child support obligation must be greater than five thousand ($5000) dollars or must have remained unpaid for more than one (1) year. The penalty for failure to pay support for a child living in another state is punishable by up to six (6) months imprisonment and/or a fine. Second and subsequent violations are punishable by two (2) years imprisonment and/or a fine.
The U.S. Attorney’s office will not accept a referral for cases with a past-due obligation that only meets the minimum qualifications. Because only a few cases get accepted each year, only cases that have a past-due obligation of at least twenty thousand ($20,000) dollars and have remained unpaid for more than two (2) years are referred.