What Do I Do If My Ex Stops Paying Child Support?

Co-parenting with an ex can be extremely stressful, and many parents rely on child support payments to cover the child’s basic daily needs. So what happens when your ex stops paying child support or refuses to make payments? Is there any way to make them pay? Thankfully, there is. These are the steps you should follow if your ex has stopped making child support payments and refuses to pay. 

Get a Child Support Order

If you do not already have a child support order from the court, you’ll need to get one. A child support order is an order from the court, signed by the judge, that requires the non-custodial parent to pay a certain amount of child support each month. 

If you don’t have a child support order from the court, your ex is technically not legally obligated to pay you any child support at all. If you only have a private agreement between you and your ex, even if it is in writing, the court will not enforce it. If you do not go through the court system, you are simply hoping that your ex will continue to pay each month and you will be out of luck if and when they decide to stop paying. It is always better to make it official and have something enforceable through the court because you never know when things could go south. You may think a mutual agreement between you and your ex is okay right now, but one day you may be looking back wishing that you had gotten a child support order while things were friendly. 

Gather Records That Show They Have Not Been Paying

If you already have a child support order and your ex is not complying with the order, you’ll need to start getting your paperwork together. Gather any records that show your ex is past-due on their child support payments. This could include things like bank statements, checks, money orders, or income withholding orders. The goal is simply to show that you are not receiving the payments you should be receiving under your Child Support Order. Screenshots of your emails or text conversations with your ex might also be helpful. If your ex typically pays child support through a money transferring app like Venmo, Cashapp, or Paypal, you will need to get the records or statements off of those apps. Try to gather all of these records before you hire an attorney so that the attorney will have everything they need to get started on your case and you won’t have to delay the case to find documents. 

Get in Court

The next step is to take your ex to court and ask the court to enforce the child support order. This process can be done through a DHS Notice of Redirection or filing for contempt in your existing court case and asking for a Wage Withholding Order. The judge may order that your ex’s wages be garnished, which means that their employer withholds their child support payments from their paycheck each month. If this happens, you will start receiving your child support payments directly from your ex’s employer. The court can also intercept Social Security, Veterans benefits, disability payments, or basically any other type of benefit your ex would otherwise be receiving from the government. There are also more severe actions that the court can take, like restricting your ex’s driver’s license or passport, or holding them in contempt of court. If the court holds your ex in contempt of court, this could mean additional fines or even jail time for refusing to pay child support. 

If your ex is not paying because they have changed jobs and cannot afford the amount they were previously paying, the judge can recalculate the child support amount to reflect their lower income.  But if the judge discovers that your ex is intentionally reducing their income to reduce or eliminate their child support payments, the judge can order that your ex continue to pay the amount they were previously paying. 

Consider Hiring an Attorney

If your ex isn’t paying child support and you want to take action, you can either reach out to the Mississippi Division of Child Support Enforcement for help or hire a private attorney to advocate on your behalf. If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced family law attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Our firm can handle your case with a balance of compassion and confidence to guide you through one of the most difficult times a person can go through. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about your options.

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