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What Should I Do If My Ex Won't Pay Child Support?

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For many parents, child support payments serve as an essential income to supply food, clothes, transportation, and other necessities for their children. In the event that your ex refuses to pay court-ordered child support, you have a right to take legal action in order to secure those necessary funds for your child.

The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 provides the court with the necessary power to require an ex-spouse or parent to provide any court-ordered financial support to his or her child. Refusing to pay court-ordered child support is illegal, and can result in severe penalties, including withholding federal tax refunds, garnishing wages, seizing property, suspending occupational or business licenses, or revoking that person’s driver’s license. In extreme cases, the delinquent may even face jail time for their failure to pay.

If a parent is unable to meet the required payments for child support because of a significant change to his or her financial situation, there are means through which he or she can secure a change in payments. However, refusing to pay out of anger, spite, carelessness, or any other reason besides financial insufficiency is not allowable. Even if your ex lacks the finances to pay child support, failure to petition the court and gain legal approval of decreased payments is still an inadequate reason to skip payments. In fact, if your ex refuses to provide payment for a number of months or even years, you can ask the court to order the payment of the overdue amount.

Before taking legal action against your ex, it may be beneficial to talk to them about your child support arrangement, especially if the two of you are on amicable terms. If they are facing a devastating financial situation, try to be understanding and see if the two of you can work out an arrangement that works for each of you and, most importantly, the child you share. Make sure you record any arrangements in writing or go through legal means to have your new negotiation confirmed by the court, just to cover your bases. You may also consider mediation, if the two of you cannot get along without a third party to assist you, before taking legal action against your ex.

If you are unable to come to an agreement, you should contact your lawyer and discuss your legal options. An experienced family law attorney will be able to provide you with legal options for obtaining your missing child support, even filing a motion for contempt of court. To be held in contempt means the person in question refused court orders and can be either criminal or civil. In either case, the person in contempt may be ordered to pay fines, or even serve time in jail. The court will have the authority to take legal action against your ex, withholding wages, tax returns and such until the necessary payments are made.

If you need help filing a motion for contempt of court because your ex refuses to pay child support, contact Owenby Law, P.A. for legal assistance.