My Ex-Spouse Won’t Pay Child Support. What Can I Do?

A Divorce Lawyer Can Help You If Ex-Spouse Won’t Pay Child Support

My Ex-Spouse Won’t Pay Child Support. What Can I Do?

Everyone knows that child and spousal support issues engender very strong feelings in the parent that must pay and the parent that receives the support. Some parents can not pay the support ordered by the court and some parents refuse to pay the support. If you are not receiving the child support funds as ordered by the Court, you can take steps to fix the problem. It does not matter whether your divorce is final. You can take steps to receive the payments as long as they are based on a Court order. Generally, courts issue an order of temporary support if one or the other spouse requests it through a motion or an order to show cause. When the divorce is completed (the courts call it a judgment of marital dissolution) part of the judgment will state the amount of child support. (Child support amounts can change based on circumstances. Click here to read the post regarding how to increase or decrease child support.)

Government Parent Locator Service

Nonpaying parents often hide from the custodial parent in order to avoid their child support obligation, often going so far as to move out of state to avoid their responsibilities. In order to remedy this problem, the federal government has created the Parent Locator Service, which allows the resources of the federal government including the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, to be used to locate a nonpaying parent’s employer. Once found, the custodial parent or the state can enforce the child support order and collect unpaid support. The law also permits the IRS to pay child support arrears from tax refunds the nonpaying parent may be owed by the government. (The law also requires the states to establish a Parent Locator Services.)

Wage Order Assignment

You can obtain a wage order assignment from the court to order an employer to make direct payments to the custodial parent from the wages of the supporting parent. This procedure is known as a wage assignment. The wage assignment can be issued upon proper application by the court and served on the paying parent’s employer. Once implemented, the employer will deduct child support like any other deduction from the paying parent’s paycheck and send the money directly to the custodial parent. This is a very valuable tool – if the nonpaying parent holds a steady job.

Contempt of Court Action

You can bring a civil contempt of court action. If a person willfully disobeys a lawful child support order, he or she can be jailed for contempt of court. The civil contempt action is brought by the custodial parent. The court clerk will have the proper forms. After that, the nonpaying parent will have to be served with process since he or she has the Constitutional right to appear at the hearing and present a defense. If the nonpaying parent is served with process and does not appear, the trial court will order a bench warrant issued for his or her arrest.

If the court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the parent has willfully failed to pay pursuant to a valid child support order, the court can order the nonpaying parent jailed. (A parent who can show that they did not have the ability to pay will not be found in contempt of court, even though he or she will continue to owe the money.)


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