Can the IRS enforce my child support order?

When parents divorce, it can quickly become a war. The two biggest battlefronts are child support and child custody, and both parents likely know that California has an entire state apparatus set up to collect, process and pay child support. However, what many custodial and noncustodial parents do not know is that the Internal Revenue Service also helps enforce Fremont, California, child support orders.

How does the IRS enforce child support orders?

With the knowledge that there is nothing in life that is unavoidable other than death and taxes, understanding that the IRS helps enforce child support orders is scary. However, do not expect IRS agents kicking down your door if you owe back Fremont, California, child support.

Instead, through the IRS’s Income Tax Refund Offset Program, if the IRS owes you a payment, instead of sending it to you, the noncustodial parent, they will instead take it to offset the child support that you owe. They will send you a notice of the taking, which you can then file for an administrative appeal, if you disagree with the taking.

What about my spouse?

In addition to filing administrative appeals, if you file jointly, your Fremont, California, spouse’s portion of the federal refund or a payment owed to your spouse may be inadvertently taken. If that happens, your spouse can receive a refund, but they will need to file the IRS form 8379 (Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation) separately. And, remember, if needed, you can always use an attorney to appeal.


None of this is to imply that you should wait to fight the IRS because child support owed will be paid one way or another. If you believe you will fall behind on your child support, ask the family law court that issued the child support order for a modification. This can help you avoid falling behind and ending up in the IRS’s crosshairs in the first place. This can be done directly or with the help of your Fremont, California, family law attorney.