Child support is a legal obligation where a noncustodial divorced parent makes regular payments to their former spouse to support their minor child. These child support payments often go toward things like clothing, food, shelter, etc., and the parent who receives these monies really comes to rely on it as part of their income. The process is pretty cut and dried, and yet, we hear horror stories all the time where an ex stops making child support payments.
How can this be? That’s not fair! Well, it can’t. And yes, it’s not fair — for you or your children. Your former spouse is most certainly working on borrowed time. In fact, not only will they have to continue paying future child support, but they will pay back what they owe in arrears. And if they don’t, they’ll face everything from stiff fines to jail time.
But let’s not assume your ex is a deadbeat just yet.
As much as it makes your blood boil that your ex has stopped making child support payments, hauling them off to Court right away or sending them to the slammer may not help you right now or in the long run.
Here are 4 things you should do if your ex stops making child support payments.
This may not be the first thing on your priority list, especially if you typically avoid making contact with your ex. But if child support payments have stopped, it’s much quicker to go to the source and find out what’s going on. It could be that they are defiant and not paying on purpose. They may not even respond to you, and if so, at least you tried. But what if they do, and you find out they are sick? What if they got laid off or recently took a massive pay cut or demotion? The Court order is what it is, so they will have to pay up. But if they’ve fallen on hard times, staying calm, cutting them some slack, and coming to a temporary agreement should help get everyone back on track.
Gather appropriate records
Pull together proof of non-payment of the full amount of support; this can be canceled checks, bank transfers, deposit records, bank statements, etc. The best record, if your order requires payment through the state, is the official record of the Office of the Attorney general which is available online. This is a pretty easy step and doesn’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time. But most people don’t get everything in order before reaching out to their lawyer.
Make a budget
Not receiving the child support payments you richly deserve is frustrating and can throw your finances into a tailspin. This is why it’s more important than ever to come up with a new budget. Look at ways to cut costs in other areas of your life. If you’re paid hourly, perhaps take on a few extra hours at work. If you have non-essential expenses like gym or tanning salon memberships, put those on hold, too. Hopefully, all of this will be temporary. The goal, however, is to help with the here and now.
Talk to your lawyer
If your attempts at making contact or getting your ex back on track with their child support payments aren’t working, an email or letter from an authority figure such as a lawyer may nudge them in the right direction. Your lawyer can determine if they are truly struggling or if they are instead staying off the radar and purposely being underemployed or unemployed. A family law attorney can also walk you and your ex through a suit to modify child support. This is where the Court recalculates child support payments based on your ex’s new income. That may not be what you want, but some money is better than no money.
If none of these four options work when your ex stops making child support payments, the result could be a very bad situation for your ex. The bottom line is that child support is not optional. Not paying it will catch up with them.
Here are just a few ways a parent can be punished for not staying current:
- Stiff fines
- Jail time
- Payment of attorney fees of person you owe the support to.
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Liens on bank accounts, retirement, life insurance, and real property
Call Nelson Law Group today!!
To speak directly to those parents who are divorced and are actively avoiding paying child support, one of our more recent blog posts lays out four reasons why you should be happy making your payments. Here’s a hint: it’s not about you anymore. If you are faced with a situation where your former spouse is not paying child support, call us. It is wise to seek help from a knowledgeable divorce and child support lawyer.
Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC a call if you have any further questions regarding this or any other issue. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A Nelson, click here.