How to Collect Child Support Payments

Advice for Dealing with Deadbeat Parents

Collecting the child support that your ex-spouse owes can be even more aggravating than the divorce. If your children have a "deadbeat dad" or "deadbeat mom" in their lives, there are measures you can take to collect the alimony and back child support payments you and your children are owed.

The first step is to try to talk to your ex-husband or ex-wife; see why payments have stopped. It may be embarrassment at losing a job, or problems with addiction. If you ascertain the father or mother actually has no money to pay, it will save you the trouble of trying to collect money with the help of a collection agency. Collection agencies can't get money from those who are broke.

If you can't communicate with your ex, but you know he/she has the means to pay, the next step is to obtain a court order for the payment of child support. A judge may order that your ex's wages be garnished, or place a lien on his/her property.

According to Robin Stein, a family law attorney in California, delinquent parents often go to lengths to get out of paying child support, especially by hiding money. If you suspect your ex-spouse is hiding money, you should contact a child support or family law attorney, or private investigator. If a lot of money is involved, professional help is a good investment. Find out if your spouse is receiving large cash payments, and take the proof to court.

If your ex has a new spouse, contact the new spouse to let him/her know the situation. The new spouse will pressure your ex to pay so that you stay out of their personal lives. Stein urges parents to keep in mind that you cannot sue the new spouse for payments. "Even if your ex has joint finances with the new husband or wife, by law you can only collect from the ex. New spouses often have pre-nups to protect them from child support disputes."

There are collection agencies that specialize in putting pressure on deadbeat parents. A child support collector can show up at your ex-spouse’s job or home and make unwanted, frequent calls. This is also a good investment if a lot of money is involved.

In extreme cases you can withhold visitation to the delinquent parent. Check with a lawyer to work out the details. In some cases, it's better if the other parent is out of the children's lives.

Stein recommends that parents keep applying pressure, and eventually they will get results. "Most deadbeat parents discover that paying child support is better than being harassed about it."

© Had2Know 2010