Living together or apart, parents are required to financially support their children, which involves the non-custodial parent paying part of their income to the custodial parent, among other things. Sometimes, though, people fall behind for one reason or another. Here's what to do if your co-parent suddenly stops sending in child support payments.
Discuss a Temporary Modification
A common reason co-parents stop paying is because they don't have the money. They may have experienced a cut in hours, a job loss, or incurred an unavoidable expense that drained their bank accounts (e.g. unexpected medical bills). It isn't that they don't want to pay. They just don't have the funds to do so.
In this situation, a little understanding can go a long way. Instead of forcing the issue, you can suggest a temporary modification to the child support order. If approved by a judge, the payment amount is reduced for a specified period of time, giving the co-parent space to fix their circumstances and get caught up.
It may be tempting to do this informally, but it's important to have the court sign off on the changes. There are legal consequences for failing to pay child support, and not having a formal agreement could create confusion and problems down the line.
For instance, some states track child support payments, and the difference between what the parent pays and what's owed may cause them to accumulate an arrearage that could trigger collection activity on the state level.
Contact a child support attorney for assistance with developing a modification request that benefits all parties and helps the co-parent get back on track as soon as possible.
Ask Child Support Enforcement for Assistance
While some co-parents fall behind because of life circumstances, others choose not to pay simply because they don't want to. If this is the type of situation you're dealing with, you can enlist the government's help to resolve the problem.
As noted previously, there are legal consequences for not paying child support, which include:
- Revocation of driving and other licenses
- Seizure of assets, such as bank accounts and tax refunds
- Wage garnishment
To get assistance, you'll need to report the parent to the state child support enforcement agency. The agency will open a case and attempt to collect the past due amount. While they will do a lot of the work on your behalf to get the co-parent to pay, you may still be required to go to court for certain things, such as to obtain a wage assignment.
It's a good idea to connect with an attorney who can help guide you through the process to increase your chances of successfully getting the outcome you want. For assistance with your child support case, call a local lawyer.