Despite court orders, sometimes a parent will stop paying child support. This can cause a lot of stress for the custodial parent, who needs these payments to cover the costs of caring for their child. If your ex-partner has stopped paying child support for any reason, here are the steps you need to take.
What Is The Reason They Stopped Paying?
If you can, contact your ex-partner and find out why they have missed payments. Oftentimes, they may feel they have a legitimate reason like a reduction in wages or an inability to work after an accident.
Regardless, before stopping payment, they must apply to the courts to change the child support order. The court will then review the circumstances before making a decision. They may agree to alter the payment amount temporarily if the parent in question is no longer working or paying higher health care bills, but they may not.
Typically, the parent with less custodial time will pay child support, and if their extenuating circumstances take them away from the child more, the court may even increase their amount of child support.
Contact Your Attorney
If you had an attorney represent you in your child support case, you may want to ask them to step in. A letter from an attorney may be all it takes to encourage your ex to begin payments again, as they may fear further legal proceedings.
It’s also good to have your attorney kept in the loop in case you do need to head back to court to recalculate child support. Before you agree to any reduced payments from your ex, you would need to make sure their claim is legitimate by appearing in front of a judge. You may want your attorney to continue to represent you in these proceedings.
Local Agencies May Be Able to Help
If you can’t afford an attorney, there are local agencies you can contact for help. Your local child support office (often called the Department of Child Support Services) will help parents with their child support needs, whether it’s enforcing payment or modifying the terms. This organization can help you enforce a missing payment by locating the parent if you have been unable to contact them, or obtaining medical information to verify their claims.
How To Enforce Child Support Payments
If you believe you have exhausted your options, you will need to have the payments enforced. Your attorney, the child support office, or a judge will have to intervene. They may garnish your ex-partner’s wages so that the child support payments are taken directly from their paycheck and sent to you. They can also intercept tax refunds to cover missing child support payments.
The non-paying parent may also be subject to penalties, such as having a license revoked or their passport restricted. In extreme cases, the parent can be found in contempt of court for disobeying their court-ordered payment and may even face jail time.
Child Support is Different from Access
Many times, custodial parents may try to punish the non-paying parent by withholding access to the child. However, child support and custody arrangements are two different issues. The child still has the right to see their parent during the agreed-upon terms, regardless of whether or not child support payments have been made. You may only withhold child access if you believe your child is in danger or the other parent is a threat to their safety.
These are serious allegations and should be handled by your local child aid society right away. In cases of child support disagreements, you should continue to share access as directed by your agreement and let the courts handle the issues of payments.