For co-parents, the issue of money is often a difficult one to discuss. However, what’s even more difficult is when one parent completely neglects the financial needs of their child leaving the burden on the other parent.
Typically this leads to court and child support orders. The court decides how expenses should be split and how much the non-custodial parent should pay each month to help support their child.
But as many of us have found out, just because you have a child support order doesn’t mean the other parent will pay.
Unpaid child support isn’t something only men do, but it is far more common for men as mothers typically receive primary custody after a divorce or breakup.
Based on a survey in 2011, only 61% of men paid their child support. But the study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family explains that fathers who lack money to make payments try to support their children in other manners.
This may be true for some… But for many others, they shamelessly refuse to pay child support or even play any active role in their child’s life.
In that case, you have to find the proper way to approach them and make sure that they fulfill their responsibilities. As wrong as it is that you have to tell another adult to take care of their responsibilities that’s what the situation has boiled down to.
If you, unfortunately, have this problem with your ex, here are the steps you can take to get them to financially support their child.
1. Try talking to your ex.
This is not an easy thing to do. Especially when your ex is refusing to help you support your child.
This is even more complicated if there was emotional or physical abuse in the relationship.
With these things in mind, having a conversation with your ex about their responsibilities will be without a doubt emotionally strenuous, but it’s the first step you should take.
Let’s face it, court proceedings and lawyers cost money, so trying to talk it out before taking serious legal action is the cheapest route for the both of you.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to your ex for any reason, go with a friend or a family member to give you support. Listen to them and try not to create a hostile environment with accusations and finger pointing before you hear the reasons they aren’t respecting their duties.
They may have lost their job or are facing other financial difficulties.
This doesn’t give them a free pass, but it’s more understandable than “I’m just not going to help financially support our child.”
Having a conversation with them may help you find an agreeable solution for both of you, like paying you in installments or when he becomes financially able to. Whatever the case may be, you will know what your next step is after having a conversation.
2. Have a backup plan to cover the missing child support.
A back up plan is always a good thing to have in place for anything.
However, when it comes to unpaid child support, it may not be that easy for some.
In most cases, you will have to find an additional job or cut your expenses.
As unfair as this is this is the circumstance for millions of women.
The best way to approach this is by thinking about this possible issue beforehand.
During the divorce or breakup, you should see what are your other options to finance your life if your ex doesn’t pay child support. Also, talk to them even then and try to find some sort of compromise to make it easier.
3. Consult a lawyer about possible options.
Legal consulting isn’t something you should neglect in these situations. Whatever you decide in the end – going to court or not – you should always know your legal rights.
Additionally, going to court will cost you, and you have to know what to expect financially if you choose this option.
Consulting an attorney will give you an idea of what to do next.
If your ex is unemployed or is employed illegally, then you have to know would taking him to court be a good idea for both of you. It all comes down to their willingness to cooperate and make an arrangement with you.
But if they’re uninterested, then, unfortunately, the court may be your only option no matter how hard it seems.
4. Contact your local child support agency.
Government agencies for child support are present in every state and even country. Their job is to collect the money for you if you don’t have the means to finance the case.
Fortunately, they typically do this service for free and apply techniques that may not be available to independent attorneys.
The only problem you may encounter is that they are usually busy and swamped with cases.
So, it may take them a long time to finally address your case, and that means you’ll have to find ways to survive until then.
Before going to them, try to come to an agreement with your ex-partner and see what other options for financial aid you have.
Court proceeding and decision
If you do go to court, know that the decision can affect your ex in several ways.
The payments may be enforced with a court order, they can be held in contempt of court and even serve jail time. You will also need a family law attorney for this in order to plead your case before the judge.
When the proceedings start, you will have to present the evidence to the court of unpaid child support. This means you should collect all the evidence you have to prove your ex is guilty.
The judge can order your ex to pay for your court and attorney expenses, as well.
After this, your ex may start making the payments regularly and come to their senses.
Child support is the responsibility of both parents.
A child shouldn’t go without because one or the other parent neglects them emotionally or financially.
Financial support is one of the things your ex should do without even being asked, along with regular visitation and care for the wellbeing of their children.
You have options and possibilities to resolve this problem with minimum emotional impact on your children and you.
Still, if those don’t work, consider taking serious legal actions and remedies to avoid getting yourself into a hard financial situation.