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What to Do When Your Ex Refuses to Pay Child Support

The custody and support hearings are long over, and your ex owes you several months’ worth of child support already. Many single parents rely on child support to make ends meet. When your child’s other parent refuses to pay, it can have a detrimental effect on your child’s well-being. How can you collect the missing payments?

Options to collect child support

First, you can go to court and get a judgment for child support. If granted, a judge will issue a judgment for the amount owed. When this occurs, you’ll have more collection options. However, certain methods—such as wage garnishment and property seizure—are available even without a judgment.

There are also government options for collecting support. For example, both the state and federal government maintain databases to monitor people who owe child support. Sometimes judges will order the parent to pay the state agency, who in turn pays the parent owed money. Most commonly, you can seek payment through your county’s support collection unit or what is otherwise known as the child support enforcement bureau.. You have the absolute right to seek payments through the support collection unit if you are the party receiving child support. The support collection unit can restrain bank accounts, intercept income tax returns as well as garnish wages.

Penalties for refusing to pay

Parents who consistently refuse to pay their child support obligations may incur other consequences, such as denial of a state driver’s license or passport. Their names may be added to a “most wanted” list of parents who owe support, which is broadcast to their community. Finally, if there is a determination that you willfully violated a support order, you can be incarcerated for a period of time. The first offense is 6 months. The potential sentence can increase for each subsequent willful violation. If you are incarcerated, you can purge your sentence by paying a lump sum amount (normally some or all the arrears as the Court may direct).

If you’re the noncustodial parent and you cannot pay—whether through temporary job loss, disability or another life change—it’s crucial you request a support modification instead of failing to pay.

The skilled child support lawyers at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP can help you sort out support and custody issues. Call today for a consultation.