By Bonnie A. Rabinovitch-Mantel, CFLS.
After the all the dust has settled following a divorce—dividing assets, addressing custody concerns, and the like—the time then comes to begin a positive new chapter in your life. In order to properly provide and plan for your family and the future, it is essential that your former spouse follows the court-ordered child support payments agreed upon during your divorce proceedings. But what happens if your ex-husband or ex-wife won’t pay the agreed upon child support in San Diego?
For starters, remember that this scenario is a common one. While that may not ease the stress of the situation, it’s helpful to keep in mind that an experienced family law attorney handles cases of missed child support payments frequently, and that you’re in professional hands. You’ll remember from your initial divorce and custody proceedings that the amount a former spouse is ordered to pay in child support is a carefully constructed number. Because child support payments are calculated so specifically (for both the paying party and the receiving party) one missed payment can make a significant difference in the lives of you and your child(ren). That’s why action must be taken right away when a former spouse does not provide the child support that he or she is legally obligated to pay.
That being said, sometimes situations may change and a former spouse may request an adjustment in the child support amount he or she has been ordered to pay by the court. Sometimes an unexpected loss of employment, or a costly accident or expense may affect one’s ability to pay child support. However, to adjust the child support amount, the party seeking an adjustment must present their request to the court for review, so that the same amount of careful consideration can be applied.
But what if your former partner is refusing to or did not pay his or her child support payments outright, without informing the court of any financial changes or requesting consideration for an adjusted amount?
In such a case, you certainly have the legal right to claim the child support payments you and your child(ren) are owed. According to the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, district and/or state attorneys are required to help you claim your child support payments from your ex. A family attorney can also help with and significantly expedite this process in the following ways.
First, your San Diego family law attorney will serve your ex with papers requiring him or her to meet and resolve the payment delay and make a payment plan. The served papers also state that if your ex does not meet with your attorney to resolve delinquent child support payments, he or she may be facing jail time. (Obviously, jail time is a last resort, as the main goal is to recover child support payment owed, which becomes more difficult if your ex is serving jail time). However, the threat of jail time can often act as a motivator for an ex-spouse who is dragging his or her feet when it comes to settling child support payments.
Additional, relatively common steps that can be taken if your ex refuses to pay child support in San Diego also include:
- Garnishing your ex’s wages
- Interception of your ex’s tax refunds
- Seizure or the placement of a lien on your ex’s property
In other words, refusing to pay child support in San Diego is a serious offense, and you do have legal recourse to claim what rightfully belongs to you and your child(ren). Beyond the monetary figure involved, child support payments are about the welfare of your child and the health of your future. An experienced San Diego child custody attorney can act as a knowledgeable advocate on your behalf should your former spouse neglect his or her child support responsibilities.