W. Tyler Moore, PC

How can I encourage my ex-spouse to pay child support?

Unfortunately, deadbeat parents who do not pay their child support payments is not uncommon in the United States. According to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, in 2009 alone there were approximately $108 billion dollars in back payments owed to custodial parents. So what can you do if your ex-spouse is not paying child support payments?

It might be tempting to try to punish a parent by not letting him or her have their visitations with your child, but this might actually be counter-productive. Allowing a parent to maintain a relationship with his or her child may help encourage them to make child support payments a priority. If a parent has an emotional investment with their children and their growth and well-being, they will be more inclined to make payments. From their perspective, if a parent is not letting a non-custodial parent see their child, they may be less-inclined to "reward" the custodial parent with the child support payments. It becomes a virtual catch-22 situation.

If there is any suspicion that a non-custodial parent will not being paying his or her child support, if possible try not to include such payments into your budget. Depending upon your financial situation this may be difficult, but if you are able to let the absence of a payment affect you less, both you and your child or children will be better off.

Every state in the country, including Texas, has anti-retroactive modification laws. This means that non-custodial parents cannot have child support adjustments made for previously owed payments. However, if your ex-spouse is unable to pay the full amount, it might be helpful to accept partial payments. Partial payments are better than no payments.

If you find yourself in a situation where your ex-spouse is not fulfilling the court-mandated duties regarding child support payments, you may need to go back to court to settle the issue. You generally cannot do this before 6 months of back payments, after which time county sheriffs begin enforcing child support.

Source: U.S. News, "What to Do When Your Ex Won't (or Can't) Pay Child Support," Geoff Williams, Nov. 20, 2013

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