If you have a Court Order that requires the other parent to pay child support, and they are not paying at all or falling further and further behind, you do have some options:
- Go to the Child Support Enforcement Office. They can enforce your child support order. There are pros and cons to this option. Pros: Once they get going, the Child Support Enforcement Office can intercept tax refunds from the parent behind on child support and can even suspend different state licenses, like driver’s licenses and professional licenses. These actions can result in getting paid some of the amount you are owed. Additionally, you generally don’t have to pay anything to Child Support Enforcement beyond a one time fee of $50. Cons: The Child Support Office is full of some great people, but they are over-worked and they don’t technically represent you. So, the process can be slow and time consuming.
- You can hire a private attorney to file a Motion for Contempt. There are pros and cons to this option too. Pros: A hired attorney can get a Motion filed within a day or two and set a hearing within a few weeks, generally. Further, the private attorney is more likely to ask the Judge to order the parent behind on his child support to be incarcerated if he or she continues to not pay. This sounds drastic, but it can be very effective in getting the child support caught up. Finally, the private attorney you hire will represent you and your best interests. Having a good attorney on your side while in Court and generally when dealing with these issues can be invaluable. Cons: You will have to hire the private attorney, which usually means an up front payment. (But see the notes below for another option) Further, the private attorney cannot intercept the tax refund of the other parent.
- Do nothing. There are no real pros to this option, but plenty of cons. I find it is best to deal with problems before they get too far out of control.
Here are few other things to consider:
- A Motion for Contempt is usually filed in the County where the original order was filed, regardless of where the parents now live. There are exceptions to every rule, but usually you go back to the county where the child support order is.
- It is sometimes best to send a letter to the parent behind on his or her child support before you file a Motion in the Court to give them an opportunity to do the right thing. Sometimes this solves the problem. But if it doesn’t solve the problem, you can then show the Judge later that you tried to resolve the issue without asking the Court to intervene.
- If you don’t have a good copy of the previous order that you are operating under, make sure you get one and read it very carefully. It is always good to have a really good understanding of all of your rights and responsibilities under the order.
- If you are worried about being able to pay the initial costs for an attorney to represent you regarding the child support you are owed, go ahead and give Curtis a call. Sometimes, we can work something out if the circumstances are such that we feel good about ultimately being able to recover your back child support and attorney’s fees. Often the Judge will order the party behind on child support to pay your attorney’s fees for you.
Give Curtis a call about this and other family law issues at 706-277-0606.
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