For many parents getting through the divorce and re-establishing normalcy for their family is just the first step after a divorce. Recently on our divorce forum a parent asked, “I was divorced two years ago and my ex-husband and I agreed and signed all the necessary divorce papers, but now he is refusing to pay child support. What are my options?”
Child support is one of the most contentious issues surrounding a divorce. Although most parents want to support their children it’s not uncommon for this to become difficult. Whether it’s due to disability, lost employment, or simply stubbornness, sometimes a parent decides not to pay child support. Depending on the reason, however, you may need to take stronger and more drastic steps to ensure your child is protected.
Establishing paternity of your child
Although the question above does not address paternity, many mothers will have to address this issue prior to receiving child support payments. The state cannot establish or enforce a child support order if they do not know the father.
If you are not married to the father of the child at the time of birth you can request that the potential father either voluntarily acknowledge paternity or submit to a blood test. After paternity is established, you can request the child support order.
Enforcing a Child Support or Court Order
A child support order is generally not needed following a divorce because you and your spouse would have already received a court order to establish child support payments prior to the finalization of the divorce.
If you have not been divorced, however, you may need to request a child support order. The steps can vary by state. In Texas, for example, the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General helps get child support and medical support orders for dependent children.
In Texas, child support orders can be requested online or via a paper application. According to the website for the Attorney General of Texas, to request a child support order you will need to provide the following information:
- Information about the noncustodial parent
- Birth certificates of children
- If paternity is an issue, written statements (letters or notes) in which the alleged father has said or implied that he is the father of the child
- Your child support order, divorce decree, or separation agreement if you have one
- Records of any child support received in the past
- Information about your income and assets
- Information about expenses, such as your child’s health care, daycare, or special needs
Enforcing the Child Support or Court Order
Whether you have a court order following a divorce or you have applied and received a child support order from the state, enforcement is done through contempt proceedings. If the offender is found in contempt by the court they will be required to pay the amount owed.
The court has several means to collect back child support payments including wage garnishments, tax refund garnishments, liens on property, passport denial, license suspension or jail time.
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