Enforcement of a Child Support Order

What to do if you are not receiving your child support payments on time or at all. 

If you do not receive your child support payments on time, you can register with the New York Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). OCSE oversees the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) and the Support Collection Unit (SCU).  Both of these units can help you enforce the child support order and to obtain child support payments, especially when you do not know where the non-paying parent is living. Their services also include locating the non-paying parent if you cannot do so. The CSEU can begin an administrative action against the non-paying parent, and seek the following: 

  • Income execution (garnishment) 
  • Unemployment insurance intercept 
  • Income tax refund intercept and offset 
  • Credit bureau submissions 
  • Lottery intercept 
  • Property executions against bank accounts and other income producing property 
  • Driver’s license suspension (for arrears of more than $2,500) 
  • Suspension of state-issued professional, business and occupational licenses (for arrears of four months or more) 
  • Passport application or renewal denial (for arrears of more than $2,500) 
  • Lien filing 
  • Tax referrals 

The CSEU attempts to do this by working with the non-paying parent. If the CESU cannot obtain relief for you, it can help you file an enforcement action in court, for relief detailed below. 

What to do if you are still not being paid or you do not want to open an SCU account. 

If you are owed more than $500 in arrears, you can file an enforcement proceeding in Family Court, or an action in Supreme Court (divorce court) for enforcement against the non-paying parent. This is called a violation petition. If the court finds the non-paying parent willfully did not make the child support payments, the court can: 

  • Issue a money judgment in your favor against the non-paying parent 
  • Place a lien on the non-paying parent’s property requiring that the child support debt be paid off before sale or transfer 
  • Direct the non-paying parent to attend a jobs program (STEP) if they are unemployed and/or intercept the non-paying parent’s unemployment insurance benefits 
  • Hold the non-paying parent in contempt of court and sentence the non-paying parent to a jail term of no more than six (6) months 
  • Order that the non-paying parent pay your attorney’s fees and any costs associated with your attempt to enforce the support order 

In Family Court, there is no fee for enforcing your child support order, but in Supreme Court (divorce court) there is a fee. 

Legal Editor: James Iniguez, January 2015 (updated October 2018)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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