You went to court, got your divorce, and reached a settlement with your ex on child support. But the checks didn’t come. Why not? There could be any number of reasons, but one thing is certain: You are not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than half of the parents owed child support end up receiving the full amount. About one-third receive a portion of it, and nearly a quarter of parents receive none at all.
What recourse do you and other parents in your situation have? There are several options. The first is to ask the state to step in. Every state has agencies devoted to enforcing payment of child support. They may attempt to do this in a number of ways:
1. Wage garnishment: The state could take money directly from your ex’s paycheck.
2. Interception of certain funds: The state can withhold funds including tax refunds, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation payments
3. Placement of a lien on vehicles or real estate.
4. Administration of a writ or execution: Property can be seized and sold to produce child support funds.
5. Suspension of passports and licenses: Your ex’s passport or various licenses (driver’s, professional) can be suspended.
6. Notification of credit bureaus.
7. Criminal prosecution.
One way to take control on your own is to keep perfect records and save all documents related to the support, since many people fail to get it because they haven’t accurately documented the amount they’re owed. You’ll have an easier time getting the state to fight for you with more solid evidence that you’re not being paid enough or at all. Here are some other tips for getting what you’re owed:
1. Try to get your spouse to sign a form permitting you to obtain his future credit reports.
2. Keep receipts of the items your spouse is supposed to pay, along with proof that you paid for them, if you did.
3. Consider using the Internet to get information on your ex’s lifestyle and spending habits. If he announces on Facebook that he just bought that boat he’s always wanted, track that as proof he can afford the child support he should be paying instead.
Source: Forbes, “How Can a Divorcing Woman Get the Child Support, Alimony She is Owed?” Jeff Landers, Dec. 14, 2011