Being a single parent is very challenging. You have to be responsible for taking your children to school, the doctor, and any extracurricular events they have, all while trying to maintain a job. It doesn’t help when you also have to pay for everything the kids need all by yourself. Fortunately, there are laws that can help you fight a deadbeat parent. You can even get back child support in many cases.
What is back child support?
A custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lives. The other parent is the one responsible for paying child support. If the non-custodial parent falls behind on their payments, they will be breaking both state and federal laws and they will face strict penalties.
Federal Child Support Laws
In 1984 the United States Congress amended the Social Security Act to benefit single parents. The act states that Attorney Generals and District Attorneys may act on behalf of custodial parents and collect back child support. The Office of Child Support Enforcement administers these laws. It also requires states to collect spousal support in situations where child support is being collected.
There are several different penalties for not paying on time. A parent who does not pay child support may face wage garnishment, liens against their property, and frozen bank accounts. A deadbeat parent who owes over $2500 may have their passport revoked.
There are some situations in which a deadbeat parent may go to jail, but in most cases that is not looked at as a viable solution. If a parent goes to jail, they will be unable to work to earn any money for their kids. The state will also have to pay for food and shelter for the person. They will almost always try to work out the debt with the parent simply to avoid making everything cost more and take longer.
In 1992 the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act was drafted to create a way for states to work together when it comes to enforcing child support. According to the act, each state must defer to the child’s home state when it comes to enforcing child support.
Before the act became a law, non-custodial parents would often move to another state in order to avoid paying their due. If a custodial parent does not receive the money that they are owed, the out of state court must enforce that law if the parent sends them an order to do so.
Steps to Getting Back Child Support
If you want to collect back child support, you will want to send a demand letter to the non-custodial parent specifying the amount of money they owe you. It is a good idea to have an experienced family lawyer write the letter. You should send the letter via certified mail or UPS, so you have proof that the letter was sent if a judge should ever want to see it.
If your ex-partner does not pay, the next step is to get a motion to enforce a court order. You will file it in the court where you got your divorce decree or wherever you and your child are living. When you get a hearing, you will explain the situation. In the unlikely event that the deadbeat parent does show up, they will have the right to speak on their own behalf.
If they do not show up, you can get a court order holding them in contempt of court. If they still do not pay, you can go to the district attorney’s office and ask to speak to a family assistance officer. They may be able to help you collect the money you are owed.
If they don’t pay at this point, you can contact the judge that granted you back child support in the first place. The court can then issue a bench warrant to have your ex-spouse arrested.
It is hurtful and expensive when your ex won’t pay for their own kid. However, a good attorney can help get you the money you deserve so you and your kids can move on.