Managing your finances after divorce can be hard, but when your ex begins missing child-support payments it can become even more of a challenge. Fortunately, there are ways to help ensure that you get the money that is owed to your family. The following can help you better understand your options.
Do you have to contact your ex if they aren't making payments?
No, this is not your responsibility. Instead, you will contact the court and let them know that your ex is failing to make payments as required. They will then enact an immediate income-withholding provision. This basically means they will garnish your ex's wages, including pensions, social security, disability, or other alternative wages.
What if they are self-employed?
Unfortunately, it isn't possible to garnish the wages of a self-employed person. Instead, your ex will be taken to court and ordered to make regular payments to the child-support enforcement division. Failure to do so can result in further consequences up to and including criminal charges.
Are there alternative ways to collect?
Yes. In some cases, child-support money can be collected from those without a regular wage. The child-support enforcement division may put liens on property or bank accounts or even seize property and sell it for the funds. They may also intercept tax refunds until the support amount is repaid. In some cases, denial of a driver's license or a license suspension is administered to encourage the person to pay their debt.
What if your ex is unemployed?
Unemployment can affect your child support. If your ex pleads inability to pay before the court and can prove that they really aren't able to pay, the court may temporarily or permanently lower the child-support amount to something that is more manageable for them.
Can you deny visitation rights until payments are made?
No. The court sees visitation and child support as two exclusive issues. In fact, it is often better to encourage visits even if support is outstanding, since a parent invested in their children is more likely to pay compared to one that never sees their children. If you are concerned over the lack of support despite continued visitation, you will have to go back to court and seek changes to the custodial agreement.
What happens once the child reaches the age of majority?
The age of majority, which is when child support is no longer owed, varies by state. At this point your ex will owe no new child-support payments. They will still be responsible for any outstanding payments, though, and you can file in court to pursue these payments. In fact, back child support cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, so it will follow your ex for the rest of their life until the enforcement division is able to collect the payments on your behalf.
For more help, contact a family law attorney such as Susan M Caplin in your area.