Child support is often one of the most contentious areas of divorce, next to child custody. Many non-custodial parents do not pay child support as they have been ordered to by the court. The total amounts can quickly rise into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. In 2009, the Office of Child Support Enforcement said that $108 billion was owed across the nation. That amount is likely higher now.
There are options for trying to collect back child support, but most means of doing so will require going through a state agency or a court. The experts will weigh in on your options if your ex doesn’t pay his or her child support.
If your ex hasn’t proved dependable in the past when it comes to paying child support, then don’t plan out your budget with the assumption that you will receive it. This way, if the payment does arrive, you can use it to buy things your child can use, but aren’t considered immediate needs.
It’s best to keep the other parent involved with the children as much as possible. This provides an incentive for paying support. A parent who is completely out of his or her children’s lives may be much less likely to catch up on child support payments.
If your ex can’t make the full payment, then ask him or her to pay part of what is owed. Getting a bit of money is better than getting nothing. If your ex really doesn’t have the money to make the payments, it could be best if the amount of child support owed each month is reduced by the courts. A modification can be done with the help of a family law attorney.
If all else fails, it may be time to think about asking a court to take action. In most instances, the sheriff’s department will begin enforcing child support payments after a period of six months of non-payment. This can be accomplished through wage garnishment or even in criminal court. Each state, including Colorado, has its own guidelines about how to ask the court to garnish wages or bank accounts as well as other forms of collection.
Source: money.usnews.com, “What to Do When Your Ex Won’t (or Can’t) Pay Child Support” Geoff Williams, Nov. 20, 2013