Dealing with a noncompliant ex can be extremely difficult in any case,
but when you both share a child those problems can be even more challenging
to overcome. When your ex pays child support, they might use those payments
against you, or they could become resentful of the fact that you receive
them on your child’s behalf. Sometimes these hostilities can cause
your ex to delay child support payments, or to refuse to pay altogether.
In other cases, your ex might simply be unable to pay or might forget
a payment, but whatever the reason, it is important that you recover those
funds on your child’s behalf.
If your ex stops paying court-ordered child support, there are a few things
you can do to obtain the funds your child is owed.
1. Address the Issue
Before you take any serious action, discuss the issue with your ex first.
Point out that he or she has missed a payment and try to talk about what
happened. It could simply be a miscommunication, or if your ex has been
exceptionally busy, they might have forgotten. In any case, talking it
out in a civil manner is the best solution, if it’s doable. If your
ex is having financial troubles, lost their job, or is otherwise unable
to meet the payments you’ve agreed to, then your ex needs to have
the child support order modified by the court. There are plenty of situations
which allow for parents to adjust their support payments in court, but
failing to pay them before seeking a modification is against the law,
so they need to be diligent about handling the issue before they are unable to pay.
If you and spouse are not on good terms, emailing about the issue might
be a better option. Also, the email will also provide you with documented
proof that you tried to resolve the child support issue before taking
legal action. If you and your spouse are especially contentious or you
fear he or she may take drastic action to refuse payments, this evidence
can work in your favor.
2. Seeking a Modification
If you discussed the issue with your ex and he or she wanted to seek a
modification in court in order to adjust the payments according to their
new financial situation, then that will be your next step towards resolving
the issue. However, remember that before a modification is legally binding,
the supporting parent is required to continue making the agreed-upon payments.
Also, if they need to seek a modification, the ball is in their court.
That is to say, they need to take the lead and request a modification
since they are the paying parent.
3. Or, Enforcing Court Orders
When your ex does not make the required child support payments and does
not take action to seek a legal modification, you can take additional
legal action. When a child support order is signed by a judge, the order
is legally binding, and by refusing to pay, they have broken that court
order. Breaking a court order is illegal and could result in serious repercussions.
You can ask the court to intervene when your ex has missed one or more
child support payments, or if he or she has failed to comply with other
child custody, visitation, or spousal support terms.
Texas courts can penalize your ex for failing to comply with court orders.
They may withhold federal tax refunds, withhold wages, seize property,
revoke your ex’s driver’s license, or suspend their occupational
or business license. In certain cases, the court may even take action
to imprison the noncompliant party.
Are you having trouble obtaining child support payments from your ex? Contact the Law Office of Kathryn Marteeny
to discuss your family law case with our Houston divorce lawyers.