Divorce courts strive to make decisions that serve the child’s best interest, including decisions regarding child support. If the court ordered your ex-spouse to pay child support, you should be able to rely on those payments to meet your child’s needs.
But what happens if your ex-spouse doesn’t pay? Here are two steps you can take:
1. Contact your ex to see if there’s a reasonable explanation
Before taking steps that will create excessive legal fees, contact your ex-spouse to ask about their circumstances. They may have recently their job or developed a health issue, or the payment may just be delayed for some other reason. If the delay is more than temporary, your ex-spouse can ask the court to modify the existing order to something they can afford. If you have reason to believe the request will be granted, you can work with your spouse to stipulate to a new order without the added fees of a contested court hearing.
2. Ask for help enforcing the order
If the other parent fails to request a child support modification or update you on their changed circumstances, but still doesn’t make payments, it may be necessary to take legal action. The court will give appropriate orders, which may include fines and wage garnishment, especially if your ex-spouse can pay support but has chosen not to.
Why do parents refuse to pay child support?
Some parents are financially stable and able to pay, but refuse to pay child support as an emotional reaction to the divorce or their former spouse. For example, they may refuse to pay because of:
- Anger, resentment, or feelings of betrayal in the marriage;
- Dissatisfaction with how the child support money is being used and not having any control over it;
- Anger about their amount of parenting time, or because the other parent is interfering with their parenting time;
- An intent to pursue a change in custody and withholding support in anticipation of a new custody order.
But none of these common reasons for withholding support are legally valid.
Raising a child with an uncooperative parent can be stressful. You may have a difficult time meeting your child’s needs without financial support. If this is your experience, call attorney David Meier at 651-738-3433.