When a couple divorces, one of the biggest battles resulting from the split is the payment of child support and alimony. While divorce settlements have an agreed upon amount of child support and alimony an ex-spouse is to pay each month, many times payments come to a halt due to job loss or a desire to no longer pay. When this happens, the spouse seeking payment has a variety of legal options they can use in an attempt to regain the money they have lost.

Legal Assistance

According to the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, a District Attorney or state Attorney General’s office must be used when attempting to collect child support. In many cases, an ex-spouse will be served papers from these offices stating a meeting must take place with them to arrange a payment schedule. In these papers, the threat of being arrested and jailed is often cited as a reason for the meeting.

Monetary Penalties

If a meeting with the DA fails to happen or produces few favorable results, other options are available from the federal level. For example, the Internal Revenue Service has the authority to seize tax refunds to use them for child support or alimony payments. Along with this option, wage garnishments, property seizures, suspension of business or occupational licenses, and even revoking the ex-spouse’s driver’s license is an option in an effort to recover lost payments and force them into once again making their payments. As an added incentive to get people to pay child support, the U.S. State Department has the ability to withhold passports from individuals who owe more than $2,500 in child support.

Jail Terms

If all else fails, an ex-spouse may have to be jailed before they decide to start resuming child support and alimony payments. However, this option is rarely used, because more often than not it actually prevents an ex-spouse from earning the income needed to make the payments.

Revised Court Orders

If it’s clear current payments can no longer be made, returning to court and revising the existing child support payment agreement is an option used by many people. This can usually ensure future payments will be made, and any back payments still needing to be paid can be done so accordingly. While these issues can be very stressful for everyone involved, reaching agreements that satisfy both parties will allow everyone to move forward. If you are in this situation, or a similar one, contact our firm today!