Child support can be assessed to prevent the custodial parent from having to shoulder too large a share of the costs associated with raising a child. Parents must be aware of their responsibilities regarding child support.
For example, a couple in another state went through a divorce last year and came to an agreement amongst them regarding the terms of child support payments. The husband agreed to make electronic payments to the wife, and she states that he has not missed any of the payments up to this point. However, the divorce decree containing the child support arrangement had a clause explaining that payments not made through job or family services are considered gifts. Although the husband had made all of the payments on time, those agencies alleged that he was $2,000 in arrears on his child support payments based on the terms of the divorce order. The agency, for their part, has stated that the couple can fill out paperwork and have a hearing to remove the arrear amounts, as they were simply enforcing the terms of the decree.
The application of child support in the event of a divorce serves the dual purpose of allowing a child to be financially supported by both parents and also having both parents share in the costs associated with raising a child. When these payments are not being made on time or at all, or are paid incorrectly the receiving spouse may seek to have the court enforce the order. If the court finds that the paying parent is willfully disregarding their responsibilities, that parent may be found in contempt. This allows the court to collect the past due amounts through numerous means including garnishment of wages, property liens and jail time, among many others.
Child support contempt is found when a parent demonstrates willful disobedience to the child support order. In this case, it appears that the parents came to their own child support agreement, but failed to follow the divorce order regarding how the agreed upon payments needed to be made. A parent may seek the counsel of a family law attorney to review such orders and inform them of their rights and obligations pursuant to the order.
Source: WKRC-TV, "Divorce Debacle: Man charged for child support already paid," Rich Jaffe, May 20, 2014