The need for enforcement often occurs after divorce in connection with child or spousal support orders.
Income levies or income deduction orders are by far the most common means of enforcing orders of support. Income levies and deductions for support may reach as high as 65% of the obligors income, after deductions required by law, as compared to the 10% allowed for other wage garnishments. The income execution applies to past, present and future support obligations, although not 65%.
The income execution may be issued by a creditor’s attorney, support collection unit, sheriff or court clerk. However, before the execution is served the debtor must be given notice of and the opportunity to correct any error. The levy/order takes priority over any other assignment, levy or process.
An employer may not discharge, refuse to promote, discipline or discriminate against an employee because of an income execution or an income deduction order. One who does is liable for damages and punishment for contempt of court. Obvious collection targets of an income execution are the debtor’ s wages, real property and bank accounts.
With the assistance of the support collection unit (which exists in each social service district in New York) a person owed child support or spousal support may be able to proceed directly with enforcement proceedings in court, or commence other license suspension proceedings, lottery proceeds intercepts and income tax refund intercepts.
Arrears of maintenance and child support may also be enforced by various court orders including,
a) sequestration of the debtor’s property as security for payment of the debt, or
b) a requirement to post a bond or a cash deposit to insure compliance.
The court may enter a judgment for the amount of the arrears, which can be executed on the debtor’s assets, including the debtor’s real property. If a court order is obtained a creditor may levy on an ERISA protected pension plan.
Failure to Pay Child Support
New York has a little known and infrequently used statute making failure to support a child under the age of sixteen a class E felony.
A potent support enforcement procedure for failure to pay spousal or child support is the ability of the courts to suspend professional licenses of anyone who is in fact licensed by New York State (e.g. doctors, nurses, dentists, lawyers, veterinarians, plumbers, beauticians, licenses to sell alcoholic beverages, etc.).
The ultimate method of enforcement of any court support order is a contempt proceeding, which many result in a jail sentence if the violation is willful. There are differing standards of proof required with each of these proceedings and they must be discussed with counsel.