What To Do If Your Spouse Doesn’t Pay Child Support

2.23.17

Children too often become pawns in their parents’ divorce squabbles. The most extreme actions include one parent not paying their child support payments. This is a very serious situation that requires immediate action to make sure that your children are well taken care of. We’ve outlined some of your options to help guide you through this process.

Contact your spouse – If you’re sharing parental time, you likely talk to them fairly regularly. It’s best at first to not assume the worst – we’ve all had checks get lost in the mail or innocently forgot a due date. They may even be having some financial troubles that they’re embarrassed about. Reach out to them and just ask – “Hey, I’m not seeing the child support check/deposit. Is everything OK on your end?” If they admit that they aren’t paying, then you have to take action.

Contact your lawyer – Your attorney can contact your ex’s attorney and discuss the legal and financial issues of the divorce decree without the emotions involved between you and your ex. A reasonable conversation between legal representatives who know and understand the law and its consequences may lead to a quick resolution. If their lawyer is non-responsive or is adamantly taking the side of your ex-spouse, there are other avenues to collect the support payments that your child is due.

Contact the court – Non-payment of child support is a serious breach of the divorce terms and can be handled in a variety of ways by the court. The first step is to file for the court to hold the non-paying parent in contempt. There are two types of non-payment contempt, remedial and punitive. Remedial contempt places the delinquent parent in jail for non-payment. Punitive contempt is a request for punishment for non-payment. If the court finds in your favor, there are options for collecting, such as garnishing wages or placing liens on their property. There are other penalties for non-payment which may include a hit on their credit score, suspending their driver’s license and possibly any professional license they hold.

When your spouse misses their child support payment, the most important thing to do is start the conversation. Don’t let time go by, thinking that everything will work out. It may be an honest mistake – and it may be that you need to get ready to go back to court.