When a couple of divorces, one parent generally receives custody of the child or children. The other spouse may be required to pay child support for daily care. Several factors go into a child support agreement, including the income of each parent, individual assets, and the basic cost of living factors. Child support is commonly mandated until the dependent child or children reach the age of 18. However, some non-custodial parents do not make the appropriate child support payments. There are several reasons – either the spouse refuses or simply cannot afford to do so. When you are the receiving spouse, this lack of funds can become a hardship. In some cases, such as when your ex-spouse is unemployed, there is little that you can do. Still, these ideas are worth trying.
Stay in Contact
Often the issue of unpaid child support triggers an emotional response. The natural reaction may be to cut off all contact. After all, if your ex-spouse cannot pay, why allow involvement with the children? However, by maintaining regular contact, your ex-spouse will remain invested in the children. He or she may be more likely to pay when it is affordable. Visitation and child support should remain unconnected. The result only hurts the children by putting them in the middle of the situation. It can also cause legal problems for either spouse.
Do Not Rely on Child Support
For some individuals, this can be easier said than done. However, if you cannot rely on your ex-spouse for regular child support payments, do not include that amount in your monthly budget. When you can live within your means without the support, you will be able to continue unaffected when it is not there. Saving those funds when they are available allows you to build up a reserve for future expenses.
Consider a Compromise
Compromise does not mean you are giving up on receiving the full amount of child support owed. However, if your ex is unemployed or simply does not have the income to pay, something is better than nothing. It benefits everyone when a child support agreement is amended. Your spouse will be able to pay a lower amount and you will receive regular payments. When finances improve, the support can be raised again.
Know When to Hire a Lawyer
It might not be worth hiring an attorney over a small legal disagreement. Consider how much your attorney fees will be when compared to the amount you might receive. However, if regular payments are not made, hiring a family law attorney may be your only recourse. When he or she has not made payment after a period of about six months, the local law enforcement agencies will get involved. Your ex-spouse’s wages may be garnished or payment may be made through a probation officer. You can also file for enforcement directly with the court. At this point, it is important to seek legal counsel. This is a complex process that is rarely free of emotional qualities and a professional family law attorney can make the difference.