A split is always incredibly hard, though they certainly are not uncommon, even after you’ve married. With about 827,000 divorces occurring each year, you aren’t alone if it’s happening to you. But obviously, a divorce becomes significantly more challenging if the two of you have children together. During the divorce, you will need to deal with the issue of custody and working with child custody attorneys. But if the result is that one of you has sole custody or significantly more custody than the other parent, you will as the primary custodian of the children, likely be owed child support. Child support is another issue entirely. Even parents that have otherwise split amicably can struggle with negotiating and maintaining child support payments. So what happens when your ex stops paying child support? First, you need to get in touch with a child support lawyer. Everyone’s case is unique, and a child support attorney can help advise you on what to do for your specific case. However, there are some basic factors to consider as it happens.
1. Do You Have A Child Support Order?
A child support lawyer will let you know immediately that unless you have a child support order, you cannot demand child support payment enforcement through the courts. When two parents break up and negotiate child custody, they must also negotiate child support. If you are unable to agree on child support then you must file a Petition to establish same. But even if both parents agree to a certain sum in terms of child support payments, as well as when those payments are due, a child support order is needed from a judge in order to enforce the payments. Until you have an order, there is no way to force your ex to pay child support. Once you know that you have an order and that the child support payment is past due, you will be ready to proceed with enforcement.
2. Collect Your Records
Obviously, you will need more than your word to prove that your ex hasn’t been paying child support. You need to collect your documents and records underlining not only when the child support payments were due and what amounts were due, but proof that you did not receive them. Normally, your ex would be paying by check or money order, depositing money into your account, or otherwise giving the money to the state after which it will be transferred to you. If the state hasn’t received child support or hasn’t been able to withdraw it from your ex’s account, that’s one thing. Otherwise, you should be able to turn to your bank to prove that money has not been deposited in your account. You may also need to pull cancelled checks if your ex cancelled checks before you could deposit them. In Arizona, after an order is issued, you can request that the clerk of the court do a child support arrearage calculation, at nominal cost. If you have an enforcement proceeding pending the judge or commissioner can order the calculation
3. Request That The Court Enforces Your Order
Once you’ve proven that your ex hasn’t paid child support, you and your child support lawyers can request that the court enforces your child support order. Usually, this is done by filing a Petition to Enforce (either through a simplified process or a standard process), after which the court will set a hearing. In your Petition you will be requesting contempt of court by your ex, incarceration of your ex, a purge payment by your ex to stay out or get out of jail, a payment plan for any remaining arrearages, a judgment for the arrearages, a review hearing in sixty to ninety days, and your attorney fees and costs.
4. Ask For An Incoming Withholding Order
An income withholding order is almost always issued in cases in Arizona and requires that your ex’s employer automatically deducts child support from their wages. These orders can also include collection of the monthly sum assessed to pay past due child support.
Child support can be difficult to navigate, but don’t let a past due payment keep you from getting what you and your children are owed. There are options available. Call our office, Leather Law Office for a free thirty minute initial consultation at 602-404-9733 to discuss the facts of your case and your options.