What can be worse than divorce for a woman with kids? Not getting child support money from her ex-husband. The problem gets compounded if your ex-partner is unemployed, has his own children from a different marriage to feed or is simply untraceable.
There is not much you can do if your ex-partner is adamant about not paying child support. Of course, your defaulting ex-partner can face jail for this non-payment, but this won’t solve your problem since whatever wages he gets in the prison will certainly not be enough. This is a common situation faced by all seeking child support and may force one to consider hiring a family attorney.
If the 2009 data collected by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement is anything to go by, a whopping $108 billion is pending in back payments in the US that is owed to parents with custody of children. In 2011 alone, the unpaid child support amounted to $14.3 billion.
Steps you can take on non-payment of child support
There are certain steps you can take to make your ex pay child support. But, don’t expect your child support dues to materialize quickly. Whatever option you choose takes time and requires patience and perseverance.
- Clearing the air with your ex-partner
If possible talk to your ex to find out his reasons for not paying. This will clear the air, since he may have a genuine reason. He may have got laid off or lost his job or fell sick or got involved in a car crash and hospitalized. If you feel his reasons are genuine and he promises to continue paying once he is able to, then take steps to close your financial gap on your own or ask for financial help from him till that time. If your ex is deliberately not paying to teach you a lesson or is untraceable, stronger measures are called for.
- Take steps to close your financial gap
In the absence of child support, instead of waiting idly for money to appear, you must proactively take steps to either improve your financial situation or cut down on your expenses. If possible, take monetary help from some family member or friend for the duration. You can pay them back later, though collecting past dues for child support takes a lot of time.
- Ask a lawyer for opinion and options
You require a lawyer not only for taking your ex to court, but also to know your options. Since lawyers are experienced in such cases, they will give you the right advice not only regarding your options but also about your legal rights and responsibilities. A lawyer will also give an estimate of the cost of a court battle and his own fees. This will indicate whether it is worth the effort to go in for a court battle.
- Take help of government child support agency
Your state will have a government agency that is meant to provide help in collecting child support from your ex on your behalf. Their services are free of charge and they also possess enforcement powers that a lawyer may not have access to. The only drawback is these agencies remain neck deep in such cases and may not be able to sort your case out quickly. If you still want to go in for a government agency, be prepared for a long wait for getting child support dues.
- Employ a private child support collection agency
Private child support collection agencies are your best bet since they are taped up as to how to realize money from your ex. They will not only calculate the money owed in child support but will also trace out your missing ex and make him pay. Such agencies typically charge one-third on the child support money they realize. If they are unable to collect, you pay them nothing.
If your ex is defaulting in paying child support, you have various avenues open to deal with the situation. Choose one that you are able to pursue both time-wise and financially. One thing you just cannot do is to deny your ex from seeing his children in retaliation for not paying child support.