What Do I Do If My Ex Won’t Pay Child Support?

Children are a blessing and a major responsibility. When it comes to a divorce, the noncustodial parent is often decreed to pay child support as their way of ensuring the child’s financial needs are being met. However, oftentimes, there are issues with late payments for child support if the noncustodial parent completely neglects to make payments at all. This puts a strain on the custodial parent, both financially and emotionally.

This type of situation is very emotional and can lead to hard feelings on both sides of the equation. The noncustodial parent may feel slighted due to not being able to be around their child regularly but still be expected to provide for them financially while the custodial parent may feel like they have been left with the responsibility of providing for their child all on their own. Divorce and child support disputes can be a nasty and stressful business, but having the support of a knowledgeable child support attorney can help. The family law attorneys at Alison Grant, Attorney at Law, have written this article to help you understand the best course of action to take when your ex won’t pay their child support. Here is what you need to know:

What Is Child Support?

Child support is a payment that is paid by one parent to the other parent to contribute to the cost of raising a child. Typically, the noncustodial parent pays the child support. 

In the State of Texas, there are no specific things that the child support payments have to cover, but it is highly encouraged that the fund amount and the funds themselves go to pay for the child’s basic needs. This includes the following expenses:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Education Expenses
  • Medical Care
  • Dental Care

Child support is often established in the final divorce decree and this court order is legally binding. The parent who is paying the child support, also known as the “obligor,” is required by law to pay the amount determined by the court. This is legally binding and carries serious consequences should the obligor refuse to pay what the child support payment decree has issued.

What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Child Support?

A parent holding hands with her children.

In Texas, both parents have a legal obligation to support the upbringing of their children. Potential penalties that the court may use to enforce that the delinquent obligor pays their child support include the following:

  • Automatically deducting funds from their paycheck or other income, such as unemployment benefits, tax refunds, or lottery winnings.
  • Issuing fines of up to $500 for every nonpayment.
  • File liens against their assets.
  • A Texas court could issue a jail sentence of up to six months for being in contempt of court.
  • The court could order the delinquent parent to pay the other parent’s attorney and legal fees.
  • The delinquent parent could have their driver’s license or other professional licenses revoked.

What Do I Do About My Ex Refusing to Pay Child Support

The first thing you should try, if you are able, is to simply speak to your ex. While child support is a legally binding decree, there may be unknown circumstances that could be causing the other parent to not make their payments on time. Whether this is the loss of a job or other unforeseen financial difficulty, talking to them can avoid unnecessary strain on an uneasy relationship and protect your child from more stress. 

However, it is fully understood that this step may not be appropriate for all individuals, as some may find their ex uncooperative or the act of speaking to them damaging to their mental or physical well-being. If this is the case, you need to contact your local child support services to ensure that the child support orders are being enforced.

What If I Was Able to Talk to My Ex?

parent holding child's hand

If you can figure out why a payment or several payments were either late or never paid, and it is a valid reason, such as the loss of a job or car accident, there are other options. You can try to come up with an arrangement for them to either pay a little less or make up for the lost payments when they are able. If this is the case, make sure you and your ex-spouse are communicating with your family law attorneys and the courts to keep everyone in the loop.

If your ex did talk to you about why the payments were missed but the excuse was a poor one, such as they decided to treat themselves to a vacation, and they are refusing to cooperate, then it is time to seek legal options. A child support attorney can ensure that you are heading in the right direction for your case to recover the past-due child support payments. Your attorney will go over your legal options with you and make sure you have the information needed to make the best decision for you and your family.

Does Unpaid Child Support Ever Disappear?

If your ex-spouse is continuously missing child support payments, they do accumulate and they are subject to interest. If your spouse is looking to modify the amount being paid and the court agrees, the amount they owe for the missed payments still stands. There is no statute of limitations on unpaid child support, so it does not disappear. The Child Support Division can organize the payments so that the parents do not have to interact with each other if that is necessary to keep the parents and the children safe.

What Is Child Support Modification?

In some cases, your ex-spouse may appeal to the court to get the child support modified with the court so that they pay less. This often happens due to major financial changes in the obligor’s household. These circumstances are outside of the obligor’s control. Other grounds for modification of child support include the following from the Texas Family Code

  • Job loss
  • Changing needs of the child such as illness or changes to living arrangements
  • Changes in employment
  • Increased care expenses for other dependents

It is important to note that both parents can request a modification for child support. This also includes the custodial parent asking for more money, should the child develop needs that mean more support is needed, such as an illness. This child support modification can be applied for by either one parent or both parents together should they agree that modification is needed.

What is Agreed Modification?

A child support order modification is a lot easier when both parents agree that a modification is needed. In this case, the modification can be filed with the court jointly. It is still important to seek out the advice of a family law attorney to ensure that everything is in proper order and to improve the chances of the modification being accepted.

What Is a Contested Modification?

A contested modification is when a parent applies for a child support modification but the other parent doesn’t agree with it. When one parent applies alone for the modification, the other parent will be served with modification papers and they have 20 days from when they were served to respond. If they do not respond, the judge assumes that the other parent agrees and then passes the modification through the system. If the other parent disagrees, then they need to contact a family law attorney as soon as possible to have the modification contested in court.

Can I Withhold Visitation If My Ex Does Not Pay Child Support?

Never withhold visitation because you have not been receiving child support. While it is your ex-spouse’s responsibility to pay their child support on time, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are upholding your end of the child custody agreement. This includes ensuring that your ex-spouse and your child are still able to have visitation during their allotted hours.

It is important to note that the courts see child support and visitation as two separate issues. The court will not look kindly on you for withholding visitation, no matter what is going on with child support. Refusing to follow through on visitations can result in you being held responsible for contempt in court. Your best option in this situation is to seek out the legal aid of the child support attorneys at Alison Grant, Attorney at Law.

Not Receiving Child Support? Alison Grant Can Help!

Alison Grant, Attorney at Law has been proudly serving Lewisville, Texas, and the surrounding areas with all of their family law needs. From helping individuals navigate through a messy divorce to helping with child support and child custody disputes, Alison Grant has seen it all. 

She approaches each case with understanding and does not pass judgment on your situation. You can rest assured that you are in good hands and that your case will be treated with the utmost respect. She and her team work hard to ensure that you are getting the best outcome possible for your case. If you are struggling with your ex-spouse to get the child support payments needed to properly support the well-being of your child, do not hesitate to contact our compassionate attorneys today to schedule an appointment. 

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