Massachusetts DOR/Child Support Enforcement Assistance

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Agency establishes, modifies, and enforces child support orders on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The Department of Revenue has many enforcement powers given to the Department by the legislature to enforce child support orders including but not limited to:

  • License Suspension
  • Bank Levies
  • Property Liens
  • Wage Attachment
  • Tax Intercept

These enforcement powers have a powerful effect on collecting and enforcing child support orders. However, they can also cause a hardship for non-custodial parents who may owe child support. As an attorney who has worked for and with the DOR, Attorney Anthony Rao will guide any client who has had difficulties with the DOR.


License Suspension:

Has the DOR threatened to revoke your driver’s license? Has your license been suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicle’s because you owe past child support? Know your rights under the law. We will work with the DOR to prevent your license from being suspended. The DOR is in the business of collecting child support, not making the non-custodial parent’s life difficult (although it often feels this is the sole mission of the DOR). As an attorney who has worked at the DOR, I understand the nuisances and the inside policies and regulations that direct the DOR and its enforcement mechanisms. We can work with – not against – the DOR to make certain that your license is not suspended.

If your license has already been suspended by the DOR there are still many options available to you to have your license reinstated. I will make contact with the DOR and negotiate with the DOR to get your license back. If the DOR will not negotiate, and all other administrative options have been exhausted, we will seek the court’s intervention to have your license reinstated so that you may drive to work to provide child support for your children.


Bank Levies:

Each week, the DOR exchanges information with financial institutions throughout the country and compares the account information with records of parents who either owe $1,500 or more in past-due support or have not made any voluntary payments in the prior six weeks. The DOR issues a Notice of Levy to any financial institution reporting accounts belonging to a non-custodial parent. The levy attaches to all existing accounts, including joint accounts, in the financial institution and remains in effect for 60 days or until past-due support is paid in full, whichever occurs first.

For example, if you recently were laid-off and not yet collecting unemployment, the chances are high that you could miss six weeks of child support payments. At that point the DOR will send a Notice of Levy to your financial institution and you will be precluded from using any of your money in your checking or savings account until the entire child support obligation is satisfied. The financial institution is required to send DOR all the money in the account up to the amount of the child support debt. Therefore, if you had $1,000.00 in your checking account, and you owe $1,500.00 in child support, your bank account will be completely wiped out. If this is a joint account that you hold with a new partner or spouse, if you receive some sort of personal benefit from the account, you will be hard pressed to get the levy removed by the DOR.


Property Liens:

A child support debt that is due and unpaid is an automatic judgment and a lien in favor of the custodial parent or the Department of Transitional Assistance. The lien incorporates any unpaid child support that may accrue in the future and encumbers all real and personal property and rights to property of the noncustodial parent. An interest in property acquired by the parent after the lien arises is also subject to the lien. All liens against real estate are filed in the registry of deeds for the county where the parent resides or owns property. If the parent attempts to buy, sell or refinance property with a DOR lien, the child support debt must be paid before DOR will release the lien and allow the property to be sold or refinanced.



Wage Attachment:

Massachusetts law requires that all child support orders include an income withholding provision. DOR generates an Income Withholding Order (“IWO”) to employers of periodic income in any case where there is an order for income withholding. DOR receives new hire information and quarterly wage information from employers in the Commonwealth and uses this information to issue IWOs to noncustodial parents’ employers. If the court order suspends income withholding, DOR implements the IWO if support becomes 30 days past-due or either parent requests implementation.



Tax Intercepts:

Parents who owe past-due support, including interest and penalty, in an amount greater than $50 are subject to state income tax refund intercept. Parents who owe past-due support in the amount of $150 or more are subject to Federal income tax refund intercept. DOR intercepts the refund, up to the amount of past-due support owed, and also deducts a $10 fee from the refund for processing costs.

Parent must be a full-service customer for all of the enforcement powers to be implemented: The DOR does not automatically get involved in any child support case. In fact, for the most part, the DOR simply collects child support through wage assignment and sends the monies to the custodial parent. If a parent (non-custodial and custodial) would like the full services of the DOR, then that parent must complete a DOR application and apply to be a full service customer. The customer, at any time, can voluntarily terminate the full services of the DOR – unless there is money owed to the Commonwealth. If the full services of the DOR are not applied for then the DOR will not enforce the child support order.

The DOR Child Support Enforcement Agency was created to establish, enforce, and modify the child support order of the Commonwealth. Assistance and legal counsel in dealing with the DOR and its complicated bureaucracy is essential in making sure your rights are protected and your children are supported. Contact Rao Law Offices for more information.