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How To Collect Unpaid Child Support

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that only half the parents entitled to child support payments receive the full amount due. Here's how to get what you're owed.


  • Step 1: Consider hiring a private child support enforcement agency if the state enforcement agency isn't getting anywhere Be aware that they can take as much as 35 percent of the total amount of child support collected.
  • FACT: The Federal Office of Child Enforcement reports that there is more than $704 million of total undistributed child support collection.
  • Step 2: Contact your state's child support enforcement agency. Working with other agencies to collect from your ex, they have the power to garnish wages, intercept tax refunds, attach assets, seize property, suspend driver's, professional, or business licenses, and launch court proceedings that may result in jail time.
  • Step 3: Contact your ex directly and inform them you want to negotiate child support payments, or explain that if they refuse to pay, you will get a child support order by taking them to court.
  • TIP: Record all conversations with your ex and/or have them witnessed. Be sure to inform your ex that you are recording them.
  • Step 4: Gather all pertinent information: your divorce settlement, legal child support order, and records of income and expenses. Establish the paternity of the child if you were never married.

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