If you searched for “How can a child support lawyer help me if my ex is behind on payments?”, you aren’t the only one. The court-ordered child support amounts for 2017 were valued at $10 billion. And that was before the COVID-19 crisis that left millions of noncustodial parents without custody jobs.
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A Serious problem
The U.S. Census shows that only 44% of custodial parents receive the child support to which they are entitled. Almost 30% of underprivileged families where the mother has custody of the children are among those where a parent is behind on child support payments.
If your ex-husband has not paid child support for several months, it is essential that he comply with the court order to provide child maintenance.
Before you call a lawyer, you should first check your rights if your ex isn’t paying child support. Child support payments will be outlined in your court order. This includes how they are paid, how often, and what support is ordered. Before you move on to the next step, ensure you have read and understood your court order. Also, be aware of your ex’s current situation.
Here are some steps you may need to take to ensure your children receive the support they deserve.
Talk to Your Ex
Diplomacy is the best way to approach this issue. You can find out the reason your ex-husband refuses to pay child support. It could be that he has recently lost his job, or that he is ill. With time, he may be able to catch up with his payments. It is possible that they will need to be gently reminded to pay their support.
You can escalate the situation if diplomacy fails. This is especially true if your ex refuses child maintenance because of jealousy or greed. There are many options for you.
Find an Attorney
Find a local child support attorney. Your attorney can file a petition to have your ex pay child support. Before meeting with your attorney, prepare a list of questions.
Here are some questions that you might need to ask your lawyer:
- Can my ex-husband stop paying child support?
- How can I collect child maintenance that isn’t paid?
- What can I do if my husband refuses child support payments?
- How can I protect myself against my ex’s anger when I attempt to collect child support?
- Does my ex-husband have to pay child support if my child lives with me part-time?
- What happens if I don’t know the address and work of my ex-partner?
- How do I pay you?
An attorney can help you determine how to obtain the child support to which you are entitled. Options your attorney may suggest include:
Office of Child Support Services
Local government offices may be able to offer support services for children. These services can replace a lawyer. You may need to provide them with a minimum level of support than you have received. This is particularly useful for ex-spouses who have moved to other countries. You can have your ex-spouse located by different offices to enforce your child support order.
Other Sources of income
You might want to assess your financial situation while you wait for collection efforts to make the actual payments to your ex. It may not be possible if your ex cannot pay child support or has vanished. You can still find income for your family, regardless of the success of collection efforts.
Child Support Penalties
These may differ depending on where you live or the circumstances.
Income withholding refers to a procedure where your ex-spouse’s employer might be required to take some of his income and redirect it into your account to pay child support. This is often the best method to collect child support. Some states require income withholding before a child support order is entered. Some states may also require income withholding until the ex-spouse is in default on child support or is subject to enforcement actions.
Federal Income Tax Intercepts
Another way to get unpaid child support is to intercept your ex’s federal income tax refund.
Your ex-partner could have his licenses suspended as another enforcement action. This could also apply to:
- Driving licence
- Professional license
- Recreational licenses, such as hunting or fishing permits
- Passport restrictions. A passport renewal request may be denied if your ex-spouse has more than $2,500 in child support payments.
Contempt of Court
You may be eligible to file a contempt of court action against your spouse. This is usually used as a last resort. The court may order a variety of punishments, including jail time.
Federal prosecution may be possible if your ex-husband refuses child support payments. Federal law, ‘The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act’ penalizes parents who travel abroad to avoid paying child support. For a first offense, a parent could face six months in jail. A second offense could lead to a sentence of up two years imprisonment. A parent could also be required to pay child support arrears.