Support collection agencies and child support collectors are private agencies and individuals who offer services to parents nationwide. Their services are fee based and provide an alternative to using overburdened and understaffed state governments' child support enforcement ("CSE Offices").
- How do I know I can trust a child support collector?
- How do I know if I'm eligible for help?
- My children are over 18, can a collector still help me?
- I already have a case open with my local child support office. Can a collector still help me?
- What if my case has been closed by a government child support agency, am I still able to collect?
- Do I need a Lawyer?
- Do child support collectors work nationwide?
- How can I determine the how much back support is owed to me?
- How do I get started?
- How is working with a child support collectors different than the government agency I've already been working with?
- How much will it cost me? When will I have to pay?
- I don't have a copy of my court order, how do I obtain one?
- I see much of your site it related to child support, but I'm owed spousal support (alimony) can you still help me?
- I'm concerned about my privacy; will you release my information to anyone?
- What if I don't know where the absent parent is located?
- What should I look for when choosing a private child enforcement agency?
- Will I have to appear in Court?
- Will I have to fill out a lot of forms?
Up 1. How do I know I can trust a child support collector?
Most child support collector have a proven track record that can be checked with the local BBB. Alwasy ask for proof that the collector is licensed and bonded in your state and that he or she has an excellent reputation with the Better Business Bureau.
Up 2. How do I know if I'm eligible for help?
If you meet these requirements, you're eligible:
- You currently have or are aware of a court order awarding you child support;
- You are not currently receiving any form of government public assistance, such as AFDC, TANF or food stamps; and
- You are owed at least $2,000 in past-due child support.
Up 3. My children are over 18, can you still help me?
In most cases, the unpaid support is still owed and can be legally collected. However, state laws vary as to how many years of back support can be collected. In many states, such as Minnesota, collectors can collect up to ten years of past support and are also allowed to charge interest on the past-due amount. In some states collection costs and attorney's fees may be recovered as well.
Up 4. What if I already have a case open with my local government child support office.
By law you have the legal right to request the services of a private firm. Most child support collectors maintain cooperative relationships with public agencies and work with them to transfer information regarding your case.
Up 5. What if my case has been closed by a government child support agency, am I still able to collect?
Child support collectors pursue delinquent child support regardless of the status of your case with your state government.
Up 6. Do I need to have a Lawyer?
Not usually. Most collectors work with an attorney or an attorney network and if necessary, the attorney usually represents you in Court. Ask before signed with any collection agency.
Up 7. Do child support collectors work nationwide?
They can work in any state where they are licensed.
Up 8. How can I determine the how much back support is owed to me?
Up 9. How do I get started?
Check the yellow pages for a local child support collector or you can use this online service to get started right now
Up 10. How is working with a child support collector different than the government agency I've already been working with?
Private collectors are able to devote the time and resources to your case and particular needs that government agencies are simply unable to do.
Up 11. How much will it cost? When will I have to pay?
DON'T sign with any child support collector who asks for a fee upfront! Good collectors take on your case and ONLY IF they collect something do they get paid. Generally, a percentage of the amount collected, typically up to 30 percent. Remember, 60% of something is better than 100% of nothing!
Up 12. I don't have a copy of my court order, how do I obtain one?
Contact the clerk of the court in the county where your divorce or paternity action was finalized. Even if your court order is many years old, the clerk of the court will have a copy. The clerk will instruct you as to what you will need to do in order to obtain one.
Up 13. I see much of your site it related to child support, but I'm owed spousal support can you still help me?
I do not have any infomation on this site, but laws to enforce child support can usually be applied to enforce spousal support thus most private child support collectors collect both.
Up 15. What if I don't know where the absent parent is located?
Child support collectors are well versed in tracking people down. They should be able to locate just about anyone within a matter of days. Of course, the more information your can oprovide, the faster the process goes.
Up 16. What should I look for when choosing a private enforcement agency?
First, you want an enforcement agency that has a proven track record and one that that you are comfortable with and can trust.
You also want to fully understand all the fees associated with their service. Many agencies charge "intake fees" or "application fees" in addition to the percentage contingency fee that is paid out of amounts collected. Regardless of whether these fees are paid upfront or out of your first support payments, these additional fees mean that you will receive less of the money that is collected for you.
You also should be aware of any additional fees that may be charged for hiring attorneys or investigators.
ALWAYS read the fine print!
Up 17. Will I have to appear in Court?
Assuming you already have a court order to receive child support, you should not need to appear in court again. However, if you do not have a court order, then you may need to appear in court, or have an attorney appear for you. Ask the collection agency you sign on with if they represent you in court and the cost of the representation.
Up 18. Will I have to fill out a lot of forms?
Generally, there is an application process that involves a few forms. The entire process should take just a few minutes to complete.