Divorce can mean a fresh beginning for your personal and social life. However, it can mean unpredictable financial entanglements with your former spouse, particularly if you share children or will need alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, after the divorce. While it may feel uncomfortable to depend on your ex after a divorce, it may also be necessary.
Spousal support is not automatic in the way that child support is. Spouses need to ask for it and establish a cause, such as having been out of the workforce for several years due to taking care of the house or raising children. Medical issues may also be grounds for spousal support.
If you have children, the parents with less custodial time will have an obligation to pay child support in an amount determined by the courts based on parenting time, the income of both parents and the needs of the children. If your ex isn’t paying support as they should, that could mean major financial headaches for you.
Not paying child support is a form of contempt of court
The courts issue child support and spousal support orders in an official context. The full force of the state government stands behind those court orders. When a person refuses to comply with court-ordered support, they could potentially face contempt of court charges.
However, you will have to ask the state to step in and intervene. The only situation in which the state may automatically move to enforce child support is if you or your child receive state aid while not receiving the ordered support. In that scenario, the state may automatically take enforcement efforts about unpaid child support.
There are many ways that the courts can enforce a child support order
There are many possible enforcement options available to the courts for someone who does not pay ordered support. The easiest solution is usually garnishing the wages of the party responsible to pay support. Unfortunately, some people will go to extreme measures, such as quitting an established job or moving from position to position frequently to avoid support enforcement.
The state may also have to seize federal or state income tax returns, lottery winnings or gambling payouts. They could also garnish bank accounts. In other situations, the party not paying support may find themselves unable to renew their professional licenses, as well as their recreational licenses. They could also find themselves denied a passport. It is even possible that the courts will issue a bench warrant and arrest an individual for unpaid support.
Requesting enforcement action may not be pleasant, but it is often necessary to connect with the financial assistance you need to support yourself or your children after a divorce. If you have concerns about your ex’s unwillingness to pay, talking with a family law attorney may help you better understand your rights.