Ex Not Paying Child Support?

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Kelli Byers Hooper | 888-558-1353 | Family Law Attorney

Is your ex not paying child support? Contact an attorney today to learn about the legal options available to you.

Kelli Byers Hooper is a family law attorney with KBH Law, Inc. in the Atlanta metro area. In this interview, she explains what parents can do if they are not receiving their share of child support.

Call her directly by calling 888-558-1353 or by submitting a contact form on this page.

Is it common for one parent to refuse to pay child support?

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. According to US Census data, in 2015:

  • 43.5 percent of custodial parents received all of the child support payments they were owed
  • 25.8 percent received some of the money they were owed
  • 30.7 percent received none

If your ex refuses to pay child support, what are your legal options?

The parent can go back to court to enforce the order. In Georgia, this is called a contempt, so you can file a petition for contempt with the court. However, before doing so, attorney Hooper says that she will typically look into the situation to find out what’s going on and see if there are other ways to resolve the situation.

In some cases, the parent just refuses to pay out of spite. In other cases, the parent who is supposed to pay doesn’t understand how to submit the payments. Sometimes there is a lag between the time of submitting the payment and the other parent receiving it. Attorney Hooper says she gives the parent the benefit of the doubt before filing a contempt of court.

What about parents who say that they can’t afford to make child support payments?

They are legally obligated to make those payments every month. For each time they don’t pay, those payments are being logged as an unpaid payment.

The penalties for failing to make payments are severe, and can include the loss of a driver’s license, loss of a professional license, and loss of a passport. If enforced through the civil system, unpaid child support can result in jail time, attorney fees, and court costs.

This is why any payor parent who goes through a major change in financial circumstances should get in front of a judge to adjust the child support payments to a more reasonable amount.

Can you discharge child support payments by filing bankruptcy?

No. You cannot discharge child support payments in a bankruptcy filing. You also cannot discharge an arrearage though bankruptcy.

How do things change if one parent moves to a different state?

If the other parent moves to another state, the state where the child is can still enforce and collect child support. It gets trickier if the parent moves to another country. Some countries will not allow other countries to enforce child support orders across international borders. This situation will require an attorney as enforcing child support in another state or country can get very complicated.

Are there any other ways to collect payments or get financial help when an ex won’t send child support payments?

Unfortunately, no, not really. Enforcing the child support order is the best option for receiving the payments. The receiving parent is usually left to their own devices to make it work while waiting for the funds to come in.

One thing the keep in mind: the obligation to pay child support does not end when the child turns 18. The child could be in their 30s and the payor parent would still be obligated to pay all of the child support.

Should you talk to a child support lawyer before filing contempt?

Yes. It’s important to make sure that you’ve gone about the process correctly. The burden of proof is on the parent receiving funds: they have to prove that there was an existing order, that the order was not followed, and that they’ve been harmed by this lack of payment. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side is your best bet for a successful outcome.

Can a lawyer help end the conflict without getting the court involved?

Yes. Most family law attorneys will investigate the situation before filing the contempt. In some situations, it’s the wrong move to file the contempt without fully understanding the circumstances. Generally, attorneys will only file a contempt if they can prove that the payor is willfully violating the court’s order.

When should you get an attorney involved? How many missed payments is too many?

Generally a good point to call an attorney is when the payor is at least two payments behind schedule. Two payments is a significant amount of money, and the receiving parent may be struggling without them. One missed payment may be an accident or the result of a lag in the deposit system. Two payments may be cause for concern.

Contact Kelli Byers Hooper by calling 888-558-1353 or by submitting a contact form on this page.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.