What to Do When You Haven't Received Child Support Payments

What to Do When You Haven’t Received Child Support Payments

September 7, 2021

Raising a child in the United States costs around a quarter of a million dollars today. Courts take a parent’s financial obligation to their child very seriously, especially if the parents are separated. What do you do if your child’s other parent refuses to pay child support?

Calling a child support attorney should be your first step. They can help you petition the court for a child support order (if you don’t already have one) or ensure an existing court order is enforced. Here’s what happens when your ex refuses to pay child support.

Do you have a court order?

If you don’t already have a court order for child support, there’s no way to legally enforce the support payments. Often, parents will informally agree to pay a certain amount of money every month, in the hopes of avoiding lawyers and court. That can work out—but if your ex suddenly decides to stop paying, there’s nothing you can do to force them. In that case, it’s time to file for a child support order.

If you do have a court order in place, tell your attorney. They’ll guide you through the steps it takes to force payment.

What happens when the other parent won’t pay?

The idea behind child support is that both parents have an obligation to help raise and pay for their child, whether or not they share custody. (In 50/50 custody situations, there may not be a child support order, if it’s assumed that both parents are equally sharing costs.)

If your child’s other parent is not sending you child support payments, you will need a court order. Once you’ve received a court order, your attorney will either work with the district attorney or other local enforcement agency to demand payment.

Once the appropriate agency is alerted to the non-payment status, they’ll notify the other parent that it’s time to pay. If the other parent still refuses to pay or file for modification of child support, they can face severe consequences:

  • Wage garnishment: The state has the power to garnish the non-paying parent’s wages in order to pay off child support amounts.
  • Fines: In addition to still having to pay the child support amount in arrears, the non-paying parent may be subject to additional fines and fees for non-payment.
  • Fund interception: If the non-paying parent wins the lottery or another cash prize, federal law allows the state to intercept those funds to pay the child support in arrears.
  • Jail time: Finally, in severe cases, the court may order the non-paying parent to go to jail—willful non-payment is a felony, and may also include a contempt of court charge.

You don’t have to raise your child entirely on your own. When you contact a family law attorney, they can help you file for child support and make sure payments are enforced.

Call the Law Office of Rob Biggers today for help with your case. We look forward to learning more about your situation in an initial consultation, and will fight to get you the support you’re owed.

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