Enforcing a Support Order
If a non-custodial parent cannot be found or is not complying with a support order, we can take steps to find the parent and enforce the order. This includes working with other agencies in Vermont as well as child support agencies in other states to enforce the order and collect past-due support.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act—a federal law passed in 1998—requires child support agencies in all 50 states work together to establish, modify and enforce support orders regardless of where the orders originate. What this means for you is that we can take the same steps to enforce an out-of-state support order that we can to enforce one issued in Vermont.
Before we can start any enforcement action on your behalf, you must be receiving our services. If you are not receiving services or have a Registry-Only case, you need to apply.
What can OCS do to enforce child support?
We are authorized to undertake a number of enforcement activities designed to make sure child support payments are made as ordered by the court. These include:
If your case needs enforcement, we will evaluate it and decide how to proceed. Some steps are automatic, and we may not inform you before taking action. For example, if we find an employer through a national database match, we will automatically issue a wage withholding notice to that employer.
We will always inform you beforehand if enforcement involves a court action. It is important that you inform us of any changes in your circumstances and notify us before entering into any agreement that could affect your support.
If the non-custodial parent lives outside the United States and is not complying with the support order, we may be able to help you determine the enforcement options available. If you have a case with us, contact your OCS caseworker. If you do not have a case with us, call a Customer Service Representative at 1-800-786-3214.
What can OCS do to enforce medical coverage?
We are authorized to enforce court-ordered medical coverage. Here’s how:
If an employer fails to comply with a National Medical Support Notice, we evaluate the case and decide how to proceed. We may not inform you in advance of a step being taken to enforce medical coverage, unless it involves filing a court action.
Will enforcement efforts be successful?
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict whether enforcement efforts will be successful or how long it may take. The likelihood of success and the time it may take for payments to begin depends on a variety of factors.
If the non-custodial parent has a steady, salaried job and lives in Vermont, there is a good chance that enforcement efforts will succeed. If the parent moves frequently or lives in another state, enforcing a support order becomes more difficult. It is especially difficult to collect support from people who are self-employed, regardless of where they live.
Ultimately, it may be impossible to enforce a support order if the non-custodial parent is habitually unemployed (or has hidden employment); we have no idea where the parent is; or the parent works diligently to avoid enforcement.
This is illustrated in the table called The Likelihood of Success.
Click here to learn how to apply for OCS services.
If you need more information or help enforcing child and medical support, please contact the OCS Helpline at 1-800-786-3214 or OCSCSU@ahs.state.vt.us.
For more detailed information about enforcing support and other child-support related topics, you should read: