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How do Mississippi courts collect back child support owed?

Mississippi child support laws ensure that custodial parents receive financial support from the other parent to help raise their children. However, just because the laws are there does not mean that every parent will follow them. When a parent fails to meet his or her obligation to pay child support, the law can be enforced in a variety ways.

Income withholding is probably the most popular way to enforce a child support award. When a judge institutes income withholding, the noncustodial parent's employer will be ordered to remove the child support payment from the employee's wages and pay it to the court. Similarly, child support money may be withheld from unemployment benefits via unemployment interception. A noncustodial parent might also be subjected to tax offset interception, where his or her tax refund from state or federal taxes is intercepted to pay child support money owed.

Non-paying parents might also be subjected to credit bureau reporting for failing to pay child support. Alternatively, they might get their bank accounts seized or frozen, have their drivers' licenses suspended or get their passports seized.

More severe enforcement measures might include a contempt action, where a non-paying parent must appear in court for contempt. That could result in the parent being forced to go to jail.

As you can see, failing to pay child support is a serious offense. Mississippi parents who are not receiving the child support they deserve can take action to get the money they are owed. Meanwhile, parents who are unable to pay child support due to difficult financial circumstances should also take immediate action to inform the court before they get so far behind that it becomes a serious problem for them.

Source: Mississippi Department of Human Services, "Collection and Enforcement," accessed Jan. 28, 2016

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