If you are encountering the struggle of an ex-spouse not paying child support, the law is on your side. There are many reasons that situations like this arise; unforeseen changes in financial circumstances is a frequent reason for non-payment situations. Other causes include tactics in order to gain visitation with the children or payback as a way of punishing the ex-spouse for ulterior reasons.
Fortunately, there are many actions that can be taken if your ex-spouse is able, but refusing, to make child support payments:
- Contempt of Court Action: when the ex-spouse is intentionally violating the child support order. If he or she lacks cause for not paying child support it is punishable by 180 days in jail.
- Wage Order Assignment: the state Child Support Division can order your ex's employer to withhold part of his wages for child support payments; the wages will go straight to the custodial parent.
- Tax Intercept: interception of the parent's federal and state tax refunds as payment for child support
- Driver's License Suspension: Child Support Division can suspend driver's licenses until payments are made
- Seizing Property: taking of the parent's property until payments are made.
- Suspending an Occupational License: Child Support Division can suspend these licenses until payments are made
There are many ways to force an ex-spouse to make child support payments when they are refusing to make them willingly. Ideally, there is a cooperative relationship between you and your ex-spouse, but if there is not, the law is in your favor.
What if my ex-spouse moves to a different state?
There are more severe measures that can be taken if an ex-spouse is running from the child support payments. Often times the parent not paying the child support will run or hide from the custodial parent to escape payments. Sometimes they may even move to other states in order to avoid being found. The federal government created the Parent Locator Service as a solution to this problem.
This program allows the federal government to use outside resources such as the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service to track down the nonpaying parent's employer. When the parent is found, the child support order is enforced and the unpaid child support will be collected.
There are various other solutions to ensure that you receive child support payments if your ex-spouse moves out of state. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act allows you to be able to take action to collect child support in situations like this.
Some options include:
- If your state has personal jurisdiction over you ex-spouse, the court can enforce child support on him or her.
- If your state does not have personal jurisdiction over the ex-spouse, you can ask the court in your state to forward the child support order to the court of the state in which your ex lives. Then that state's court can enforce child support payments on him or her.
- You can personally go to a court in your ex-spouse's state and file an enforcement of child support request.
- You can send the order for child support to your ex-spouse's employer and ask for the employer to garnish the wages from the ex's paychecks.
Penalties for Not Paying Child Support
There are several acts that penalize nonpaying parents. The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 makes it a federal crime for a parent to refuse to pay child support to the custodial parent living in another state. There is also the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, which makes it a felony for a parent to refuse to pay child support to a parent in another state. The penalties have increased in severity over time; parents who do not pay child support are not tolerated and will experience consequences for their actions.
There are federal and state laws punishing nonpaying parents:
- Federal Child Support Recovery Act makes it a misdemeanor when a parent accrues arrearage over $5,000 or when arrearage is not paid for over a year. 1st time offenders: failure to pay is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in prison.
- Subsequent offenders: failure to pay is punishable by 2 years in prison.
- It is a felony to accrue an arrearage of over $10,000 or fail to pay your arrearage of $5,000 or more for over 2 years. This felony is punishable by 2 years in prison.
- State law: failure to pay each payment may constitute contempt of court action. The nonpaying parent can be charged for each payment that has been unpaid. The parent will be incarcerated until all child support payments are made.
- In order to be in contempt, the parent alleging contempt is required to show proof that the nonpaying parent is able to pay child support or that the parent is intentionally placing him or herself in the position of not having the funds for child support payments in an attempt to not have to pay.
Divorce can be an emotional battle, and adding in an ex-spouse who refuses to pay child support may create a financial battle as well, seek experienced counsel and receive help.
If you are suffering from an ex-spouse who won't pay child support, contact a Jacksonville divorce lawyer from Charles E. Willmott P.A. to talk to a board certified divorce expert!
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