Making ends meet after a lengthy divorce, especially when you’re taking care of your kids, can be a struggle. It becomes even worse when your ex-spouse stops sending child support payments. What should you do when your ex is not making child support payments?
When you’re running out of ways to make ends meet, the gut reaction is to see justice in court. You might have the urge to take your ex to court immediately and get them to pay once again for evading their responsibilities.
However, you need to think about this step through. Failing to make child support payments can be counted as a felony, with possible incarceration and criminal charges. Your ex can face up to 4 years in prison, and a fine of not more than $2000. When that happens, you really won’t be getting any child support payment from your ex.
You need to understand your options and do your homework. There are several things you should do when your ex isn’t sending support.
Review the Court Order
Child support payments are obligations under a court order. After a divorce, the parent who isn’t getting custody might be mandated to send a set amount each week, month, or period. It can be an X number of dollars, depending on need and capability.
The obligation to pay child support isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy. It applies even to ex-partners who were never married. It’s also not automatically imposed in all cases. In fact, if you’re still in the process of filing for divorce, make sure to have this court order done.
There may be details within the court order that you missed. What are the exemptions for paying child support payments? How many times can the fee be delayed or missed before you have grounds to take the case to court? What are the agreed-upon consequences, if any?
Understand the Circumstances of the Missed Support
Why did your ex stop paying child support? That is one of the first questions you need to ask. It helps you in determining the next steps.
Figuring out the answer may be uncomfortable. Not many people would want a long conversation with their ex-spouse regarding financial and legal obligations. However, as the person receiving the payments, you need to be diligent at asking about circumstances. You need to send a text or an e-mail at least.
When you communicate with your ex, it’s best to be polite. Don’t be aggressive. An amicable conversation can help ease the process.
Your ex may be dealing with unexpected expenses or loss of income, which has prevented them from sending payments. Ideally, they would have also notified you. Circumstances can include being laid off work, having to pay for emergency medical bills, or incurring accident-related expenses.
There may be provisions in the court order (which you should have reviewed) about exemptions or allowable delays. If your ex doesn’t have money, it makes no sense to expect support from them as well. They may be allowed partial payments for a while.
However, if there are no mitigating circumstances, and they are really just refusing to pay child support, they can be held in contempt of court.
Explore All Of Your Options
Getting weekly or monthly support can easily become part of your routine. Having that taken away can quickly destabilize your new home environment. Ideally, you would already have a nest egg of savings for a rainy day. However, the delay in payment can take months.
You can make your existing budget stretch by cutting back on expenses or taking on extra hours at work.
Once you’ve exhausted all the reasonable options, you can turn to Michigan’s local child support enforcement agency for help. They can assist you in making your ex accountable. They can issue an income withholding order, tax refund offset, license suspension, credit reporting, or even passport denial to your ex. He or she will be charged with a felony of non-support.
Talk To Your Divorce Lawyer
The cost of going to court can easily rack up. So can the cost of going to a private child support enforcement agency. Your ex can get away without payments if they found a loophole in the court order. They can even successfully petition for child support reduction. If you don’t succeed in your case, you’ll only be losing money for nothing.
Talk to a Lansing divorce lawyer at The Clark Law Office to help you review the court order, negotiate with private child support enforcement agencies, and finally to take the case to court if needed. Contact us today.