Your divorce proceedings usually decide which parent will pay child support, how much will be paid, and how often it will be paid. Although this is a legally binding agreement, sometimes the paying parent may stop paying child support, possibly because they can’t afford it or because they are simply being neglectful. If your ex has stopped paying child support, there are things you should do in order to help get the situation back into control.
Budget for the gap.
If you count on your child support payments for your own personal budget, you need to find ways to cover that gap until you can get your ex to start paying you again. Hopefully you will not need to cover this gap for an extended amount of time, but it’s still possible that you won’t be able to rely on this money, so you’ll want to ensure it doesn’t affect you financially.
Talk with your ex.
The very first thing you should do if your ex stops paying child support is to talk to them. Maybe they simply cannot afford to make the payments due to a financial hardship. If this is the case, ask them to at least give you what they can every month, even if it’s not what the courts have agreed upon. If possible, maybe you can even let them off the hook until they are back on their feet financially. However, if your ex is not paying you just to be spiteful, then you’ll want to take additional actions to get them to start paying you again.
If you do allow your ex to pay you less than what’s agreed upon until they are back on their feet, be sure you get this agreement in writing, as a written agreement is a legally binding contract that you can use in court should you need to.
Talk to a lawyer or legal service.
If your ex is simply being defiant with their child support payments, then you’ll want to talk with a lawyer or professional legal service to see what your options are in terms of covering yourself and forcing your ex to pay. Depending on the terms of your agreement, taking legal action could force your ex to pay child support by taking the money directly out of his or her paychecks or putting your ex in jail until he or she could pay the child support.
However, before you take legal action against your ex, you want to ensure it’s the right thing to do financially. For instance, if your ex only owes you $500, but it will cost nearly $2000 in legal fees, then taking legal action may not be the smartest thing to do, especially if you know there’s no way your ex will be able to afford to pay you.
It’s also important to note that the courts have specific terms and timelines to follow before they enforce unpaid child support payments. For instance, some courts will require your ex to not have paid for at least six months before they do anything about it. If this is the case, you’ll want to know this information ahead of time so you can prepare. Your lawyer should know the possible outcomes for your case at your specific moment, so be sure to talk about the likelihood of you getting your money before you make a decision to go to court.
Child support is meant to help you care for your children after a divorce, so it’s possible you’ll need that money to stay afloat financially. However, if your ex is failing to pay, know there are steps you can take to get back to normal.