It takes two people to create a child, thus, it is only right that both of them do their part in supporting the child’s needs and upbringing. If one is the custodial parent, the other one must provide financial support even if there is a joint custody arrangement in place.
One cannot get out of paying child support, but some people try their hardest to do so. Either they do this by completely cutting off the other parent, or they simply skip on child support payments promising to pay at a later date. Whatever tactic they use, the end result is the same: the custodial parent does not receive the support that they need to bring up their child.
If the other parent is not paying child support, here is what you can do:
Talk to them
If the relationship with the other parent ended badly, the last thing you want may be to have a sit-down discussion with them about child support. Often, it can feel like you’re begging for money that you are entitled to in the first place. However, having a serious discussion about their non-payment can help keep the case out of court and save you the stresses of collecting child support payments.
Set a meeting (or a phone call) and express your desire for a mature, non-heated discussion. If they are having trouble paying child support for a valid reason (other debt, job loss, medical issues, etc.), perhaps you can come to an agreement of decreasing the child support that they owe and make it easier for them to pay (you may still have to go through the proper channels to arrange a modified payment). If this is not an option, consider giving them enough time to pay what they owe before you move on to other collection methods.
Contact child support services
Discussion may not work for many parents, especially those with strained or estranged relationships. If this is the case for you, you can contact the child support services (CSS) in your area for help. These offices do not represent either parent but rather ensure the children receive the financial support that they need.
The CSS can help you track the other parent, as well as help you collect payments through various means, such as:
- Withholding income from wages, unemployment, social security, and other forms of financial compensation
- Suspending the non-paying parent’s licenses, including driver’s and recreational
- Garnishing state and federal tax refunds
- Submitting reports to credit bureaus
- Filing contempt of court actions
- Issuing a bench warrant for the parent’s arrest
Get a lawyer
If you can afford one, having a family attorney by your side can help make it easier for you to collect child support payments from the other payment. Furthermore, they can make the process go faster, which child support services may not be able to do due to the high volume of cases they are dealing with. Hence, if you need the money immediately or have a case that the CSS cannot handle, a lawyer can help.
Your lawyer can help guide you through the legal options that you can use to get the other parent to pay. Examples include:
- Requesting a wage garnishment order to instruct the non-paying parent’s employer to automatically deduct child support from their paycheck and send the amount to you.
- Filing a motion for contempt to ask the court to find the non-paying parent having violated a court order, which can lead to their arrest and eventually, jail time. This action is enough for most non-paying parents to pay what they owe to avoid going to jail.
- Requesting a writ of execution which allows local law enforcement to seize and sell the non-paying parent’s assets, and then transfer the money to you as payment for owed child support.
- Filing a change request with the court if you and the other parent agree to a new amount that will make it easier for them to pay child support, especially if they experience job loss or a pay cut. The non-paying parent can also request this change if they have a valid reason for modifying the amount that they owe.
Receiving child support is more of the child’s right instead of the parent’s, but it is your responsibility to ensure that they receive the financial support that they need every month. If the other parent of your child is not paying or refuses to pay what they owe, go through the proper channels as soon as possible to start collecting what your child is entitled to. If you don’t know where to start, talk to a lawyer or the child support services office in your area.