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Securing Child Support When a Partner Refuses to Pay

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Child Support, Divorce

Around half of all marriages end in divorce in the US, and obtaining and enforcing child support can be a challenging process, especially when the other parent refuses to pay. However, there are legal steps you can take to ensure your child receives the financial support they are entitled to. This article will outline the key considerations and strategies for securing child support in these difficult circumstances.

Establishing a Child Support Order

The first step in securing child support is to establish a formal court order. This typically involves filing for child support through the family court system. The court will review financial information from both parents and determine an appropriate child support amount based on factors such as income, expenses, and number of children.

It’s important to note that a child support order is legally binding, regardless of whether the other parent agrees with the amount. Failure to pay can result in serious consequences, including wage garnishment, tax refund interception, and even jail time.

If the other parent is not legally the child’s parent, you may need to first establish paternity through genetic testing or other means before you can go after them with a child support order. This additional step can add time and complexity to the process.

Enforcing the Child Support Order

Once a child support order is in place, the real challenge often lies in actually getting the other parent to pay. When a parent refuses to comply with the order, there are several enforcement mechanisms available:

  • Wage Garnishment: The court can order the other parent’s employer to withhold a portion of their paycheck to cover the child support payments. This is one of the most effective enforcement tools.
  • Tax Refund Interception: The government can seize the non-paying parent’s tax refunds to cover past-due child support.
  • License Suspension: Driving, professional, and recreational licenses can be suspended for failure to pay child support.
  • Contempt of Court: The court can hold the non-paying parent in contempt, subjecting them to fines or even jail time until they make the required payments.
  • Credit Reporting: Unpaid child support can be reported to credit bureaus, damaging the non-paying parent’s credit score.
  • Liens on Property: The court can place liens on the non-paying parent’s real estate, vehicles, or other assets, making it difficult for them to sell or refinance.

Pursuing these enforcement options can be time-consuming, but we can help. It is important that you stay persistent and utilize all available legal remedies to ensure your child receives the financial support they need.

Modifying the Child Support Order

In some cases, the original child support order may no longer be appropriate due to changes in the parent’s financial circumstances. If the non-paying parent experiences a significant decrease in income or an increase in expenses, they may be able to request a modification of the order.

Likewise, if the paying parent’s financial situation improves, you may be able to request an increase in the child support amount. This can be an important strategy if the original order was set too low to adequately cover your child’s needs.

To modify a child support order, you’ll typically need to file a request with the court, provide any financial documentation requested, and when a hearing is scheduled, attend. It’s advisable to work with us on this to ensure the modification process is handled properly and can protect your child’s best interests.

Pursuing Alternative Options

In situations where the legal system seems to be failing, there are occasionally alternative options worth considering:

  • Mediation: Rather than returning to court, you and the non-paying parent may be able to reach an agreement through mediation, with the help of a neutral third-party facilitator.
  • Negotiation: Sometimes, direct communication and negotiation between the parents can lead to a more cooperative solution, especially if the non-paying parent is facing the prospect of more stringent enforcement measures.
  • Community Resources: Depending on your location, there may be nonprofit organizations or legal aid clinics that can provide guidance and support in navigating the child support system.

The decision to pursue alternative options should be carefully weighed, as they may not carry the same legal enforceability as a court order. However, in some cases, these approaches can help break an impasse and lead to a more amicable resolution.

Securing child support when a partner refuses to pay can be difficult. However, by understanding the legal processes and enforcement mechanisms available, you can take proactive steps to ensure your child receives the financial support they deserve. Persistence, patience, and, when necessary, the assistance of our law firm can be crucial in overcoming the challenges posed by a non-compliant parent. If you’d like to discuss an issue with child support payments, contact our office as per the details below.

  • Bellevue – 10900 Northeast 4th St, Suite 2300, Bellevue, WA 98004
  • Kirkland – 1207 Market St. Kirkland, WA 98033

Call now for a free consultation on (206) 792-0981.