What if Your Ex-Spouse Stops Paying Child Support?

Times are understandably difficult for so many Alabamians right now, and, as a result, many who owe child support to an ex-partner may have extreme difficulties satisfying these payments. Unfortunately, the pandemic has not been recognized as an acceptable reason for non-custodial parents to be missing child support payments. If you or your ex-spouse has fallen behind on child support payments, there are a variety of legal tools available to force the payments to begin again. 

  • Wage garnishments: this is typically the first step for single parents who have stopped seeing court-ordered child support payments. In a garnishment, the non-custodial parent will have the payments directly deducted from his or her paycheck. This is not limited to wages, either. Other payments that can be garnished include unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and even retirement checks. 
  • Notifying credit reporting agencies: if you are continuing to see non-payment of child support payments, it might be time to get TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax involved. These bureaus will include the non-payment of $1,000 or more in child support on the non-custodial parent’s credit reports; this will make it more difficult to obtain loans. The debts could continue to show up on credit reports for another seven years after the debt is satisfied. 
  • Intercepting tax returns: both federal and state tax returns can be intercepted and used to satisfy unpaid child support. The non-custodial parent must have at least $500 worth of unpaid child support before this step can be taken. 
  • Suspending licenses: a variety of personal and professional licenses can be revoked or suspended when a non-custodial parent does not meet child support payments. This includes professional licensure, driver’s licenses, recreational licenses (hunting and fishing), and passports. 
  • Placing a lien on personal property: after $5,000 of unpaid child support, the court can order a lien to be attached on real or personal property of the non-custodial parent. Once a lien is attached to an asset, the asset cannot be sold or refinanced without releasing the lien. 

Contempt of Court

If all else fails, you can bring the full force of justice on your ex-partner for not paying child support. Not paying court-ordered child support means you are in contempt of a court order, which is a jailable offense. Your ex could even face federal prosecution if he or she crosses state lines to avoid paying child support. 

As you can see, there is a menu of options available for custodial parents to hold their ex-partners available for court-ordered child support. In your cases, your ex might be actively resisting paying the child support. If you are struggling with this, our firm would be happy to help. Reach out to us soon to get started on your consultation.

John M. Totten