Going through a divorce when you have a child can be a difficult experience. After spending days in court and hours on the phone with your lawyer, you’d think the difficult part is over. Unfortunately, for some parents, it’s just the beginning.
Child support can be a touchy issue between both parties, and things can get more complicated if one parent stops paying.
Are you wondering how to collect child support if one parent isn’t holding up their end of the deal? Don’t give up if you don’t receive the payments you and your child need. Keep reading to learn how you can collect child support if you’re having trouble.
The Basics of Child Support
Child support isn’t as cut and dry of a thing as people assume. Even if you have a court order that states that you’re entitled to receive support, getting that order can be complicated.
Essentially, a non-custodial parent, both biologic parents, and even a non-biological parent can be petitioned for child support. It’s important to note that in some situations that you don’t even have to be married to be responsible for paying support. If a judge finds that you’ve been a stable force in a child’s life and that they’ve depended on your income, you could have to pay.
The rules can differ from state to state, but in general child support is paid until the child turns 18 or they’ve graduated high school. In some cases, some parents may agree to pay for college costs. It’s also possible that a special needs child can receive support after they’ve turned 18.
There are only usually only two events that can cease child support payments: if a child is legally adopted by someone else or if they’re active military. Financial hardships, job loss, and moving states can make receiving payments difficult, but they aren’t grounds to end child support.
How to Collect Child Support: Our 4 Tips
Whether your child support payments have abruptly stopped or if you’re owed support and your spouse hasn’t given it, know that there are some things you can do to help get the money you’re owed.
Some people can go to great lengths to avoid having to pay child support, including working under the table to avoid wage garnishment or moving to a different state. Luckily, you have several resources at your disposal.
There are plenty of ways for judges to ensure that you receive the money you’re owed. If your spouse claims to not have the money they owe you, a judge may choose to take the following actions:
- Withhold income from wages, social security, unemployment, veterans’ disability compensation, or workers’ compensation
- Report non-paying parents to credit bureaus
- Place liens on properties
- Garnish state and federal tax refunds
- Garnish lottery winnings
In order for any of those things to happen, you need to make sure that you take the right steps. If you’re missing child support payments, make sure to follow these important tips.
1. Start a Conversation
You may feel angry or hurt about the situation, but if you’re not getting child support payments one of the best things you can do is reach out to the non-paying parent.
Sometimes a delinquent parent does want to support their child, but they’ve run into a difficult financial situation. They may have lost their job, gotten a pay cut, or even have an illness that’s costing them a lot of money.
In these cases, the best thing you can do is work out an alternative child support plan. You may choose to waive payments for a little while until your ex gets back on their feet, or possibly see if you can reduce payments altogether.
2. Talk to Your Lawyer
If you’re not getting the money you’re owed, don’t wait to involve legal help. As soon as there’s an issue you should be on the phone with your divorce lawyer.
Some divorce lawyers also specialize in family law and can help represent you in court. This can be one of the best case scenarios possible because they’re already familiar with you, your history, and the child support agreement you chose.
If they don’t handle family law, they can still be a helpful resource. They may be able to refer you to a lawyer that can help you.
3. Contact Local Agencies
When Congress established the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) and Paternity Establishment Program in 1975, it made it easier for states to get involved in child support disputes. Today, every state should have their own division of CSE to help parents in need.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a helpful website that can help you find your state’s agency.
These divisions are designed to help parents in need to get the money that they’re owed. In some cases, they don’t need court orders to pursue certain actions against a non-paying parent.
4. Show Your Spending
Some people may have questions around expenses for child support and what you can and can’t spend money on. It isn’t uncommon for some parents to try to get out of pay support by claiming that their spouse isn’t using the money properly.
You should know that it can be difficult to prove that child support funds are being mismanaged, but you should still be prepared in case the accusation comes up.
In case you need to go to court again, it’s a good idea to keep track of your spending when it comes to child expenses.
If you don’t save receipts, your bank and credit card companies can help you get records of your spending. Showing that you devote money towards things for your child their argument will fall apart.
Start Getting What You’re Owed
If you want to know how to collect child support, know that it doesn’t have to be difficult. Getting the help of legal professionals and special agencies can sometimes be just as helpful as having a talk with your ex-spouse. Regardless of what you choose to do, know that there are plenty of ways for you to get help.
Do you have questions around the best way to communicate with an ex-spouse over issues that involve your kid? Are you ready to get back in the dating scene, but don’t know how?
We have a lot of lifestyle content on our site that can help you out. Be sure to browse our posts so you can find answers to the questions that matter to you the most.
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