When a person ordered to pay child support in Washington fails to comply with that order, it can have serious implications for their professional lives. Child support enforcement is based on both federal and state laws, with a range of options available to enforcement agencies to compel people to make payments.
In Washington State, failure to pay child support can result in the suspension of a driver’s license. In addition, unpaid child support arrears can be automatically deducted from a federal income tax refund. Wages and bank accounts can be garnished. Arrears can also be entered as a court judgment, which is an automatic lien on real estate, and can profoundly affect credit ratings. For certain professionals and military servicemembers, unpaid child support can adversely affect employment, promotion, background checks and security clearances. Sometimes technical errors or mistakes in data entries can unfairly create or inflate the total amount due. Whether people own their own businesses or serve in an important capacity, they should seek the help of a lawyer immediately if they foresee an inability to make payments. Payment plans or the correction of errors can often be accomplished through negotiations or court proceedings. Failure to do so can result in financial and professional problems that only exacerbate whatever other issues people are already facing.
Loss of Professional and Driver’s Licenses
Washington State law allows enforcement agencies to suspend or revoke professional licenses in cases of nonsupport. People who need these licenses in order to legally operate or participate in a business can suddenly find themselves unable to work if they are found to be in violation of a child support order. The state might also take away your driver’s license for failure to pay support, which severely limits your ability to travel back and forth to work and for business purposes.
Reporting of Debt to Credit Agencies
People in Washington who fail to make child support payments may find that this failure has been attached to, and affected their credit scores. This can be devastating to someone whose personal credit report is tied to their ability to obtain financing for their business. For others, employers might require that employees maintain credit scores at a high level as a condition of their employment.
Revocation Or Denial Of Passports
People who travel internationally in support of their businesses or employers might find themselves unable to travel overseas if a judge determines they have violated a child support order. As of 2006, the government revokes or refuses to issue a passport for anyone who amasses $2,500 or more in arrears on their support payments.
Attachment of Funds
The state may also attach funds held in financial institutions in an attempt to collect back child support payments. This creates a difficult situation for people who cannot easily separate their business funds from their personal funds. The state might also attach the value of lawsuits and tax returns, and may file liens against vehicles and property.
How to Avoid These Professional Pitfalls
If you foresee a change in your circumstances, consult an experienced family law attorney to avoid the potentially devastating effects of a failure to pay child support. Once court orders are in place that limit your professional life, things become much more complicated and harder to reconcile.
Sources: http://statelaws.findlaw.com/washington-law/washington-child-support-enforcement.html, https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/faq?field_topicvalue=childenforce