Nothing is more frustrating than trying to raise your child on a limited budget when your ex isn’t helping with money. Parenting is expensive, and unexpected costs can arise suddenly. If you’re stretched to your limits just trying to cover the basics with your income, a bit of extra from your child’s other parent can really help.
Below, we’re going to talk about some strategies you can employ to encourage them to pay.
First, legally establish child support
Hopefully this is obvious, but it is important to legally establish child support if you want to make sure your ex pays. Once child support is established, your ex-spouse is required to make payments. Your ex is not excused from making payments even if he or she files for bankruptcy. The courts will protect your children’s right to receive support.
When you’re going through divorce proceedings, it’s important to determine a child support schedule so payments aren’t delayed. Payment starts with the date of the judge’s approval.
If your ex loses income or experiences a pay decrease, he or she is still legally responsible to make payments, though the amount may be recalculated by the court.
Encourage them to see their kids
Your first instinct may be to stop visits until your ex starts paying, but the reverse is actually a better idea. Keeping your ex in touch with your children increases the likelihood of support because they will be more involved with their kids’ lives and witness firsthand what they need. Also, you keep yourself out of legal trouble by not interfering with the custody schedules.
Accept partial payment
If your ex is willing to pay you some of the amount, it’s better than getting nothing. Keeping the line of communication open can also provide you with more opportunities to encourage your ex to speak to the court about adjusting the payment amount if they are truly having trouble.
Take legal action
Since Florida has strict laws against failure to pay child support, you have more recourse than you might realize. Here are some legal steps you and your attorney can take to collect child support from your ex-spouse.
Motion for Civil Contempt
Your lawyer can file this written request with the court, which states that your ex-spouse is failing to make payments under the child support agreement. The judge will then call a hearing that both of you must attend. The judge may order your ex-spouse to pay the overdue funds in addition to fines and possible jail time.
Court Ordered Payments
Once the ex-spouse has been found in contempt of the court by failing to make payments, the judge can put a court order in place to help collect funds. Funds can be garnished from your ex’s paycheck, taken from tax refunds, or liens can be established. A court order can also stop home equity line withdrawals, force the sale of vehicles, and seize workers compensation payments or lottery winnings over $600.
Your ex’s driver’s license can be suspended until he or she makes payments. Other licenses, such as those for occupational, professional, or recreational use, can also be suspended until payments are made.
The judge can order your ex-spouse to serve a jail sentence for up to one year until payments are made in full. However, this can be counterproductive, as your ex-spouse cannot earn money while incarcerated.
Consult a Family Lawyer about Which Strategy Is Best for You
As you can see, there are a number of options available to you. The right one will depend upon your specific situation, including the relationship that you and your kids have with their other parent.
If you’re not sure what to do or believe that you need to involve the courts, the first step you should take is to reach out to an experienced Florida family attorney today.