If you’re in the process of getting a divorce, you’re probably looking forward to the whole thing being over. Most people are under the impression that once all the agreements have been negotiated or the decisions handed down by the court, it’s just a matter of getting the paperwork signed and then both parties can start rebuilding their lives — the alimony checks and child support payments arrive each week like clockwork because there’s a paper somewhere that says that’s what is supposed to happen, and everything will be fine. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works out. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer than fifty percent of the parents who have a child support order saying that they’re supposed to receive payments actually get the amount that they’re supposed to, and almost 25 percent get none of it. And that’s just child support – there aren’t good numbers available regarding alimony, but it’s safe to assume that isn’t being paid either.
So what can be done? Alimony and child support attorneys can help you address this issue.
In the case of child support, you and your attorney have a valuable advocate in the form of your local Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). Once this agency has been notified of nonpayment of child support payments, there are a number of actions that they can take to help you recover the amount that is owed. These include garnishing your spouse’s wages, intercepting funds that they are owed such as tax refunds and workers’ compensation payments, placing a lien on their property, suspending their licenses or passport, notifying credit bureaus, and even prosecuting them. Though the process works, it can work slowly, and sometimes when you’re owed a great deal of money it can take a long time to get it back, as OCSE sometimes divides the funds owed into small pieces taken out of a weekly paycheck, divided over the course of the child’s life until they reach the age of majority.
When it comes to alimony, similar actions can be taken. If your alimony and child support attorney files charges against your ex for non-payment of alimony that has been outlined in a divorce agreement, the judge is going to view it as contempt of court. Unfortunately, ex-spouses are known for playing games with their money and may cry poverty.
The best way that your alimony attorney can help you protect yourself from non-payment of alimony is to avoid the possibility in the first place. If at all possible, consider accepting a lump sum payment instead of relying on your spouse to continue making payments. Doing so cuts the cord between you and your ex and allows you to be free of worrying about whether the checks might suddenly stop. If that isn’t a possibility, then make sure that you keep meticulous records of every payment that you are owed and the dates that you receive them, or don’t receive them. The more evidence that you are able to provide, the more effective your attorney will be in helping you to collect what you’re owed.