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What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Won't Pay Support

Child Support
For many divorcing couples, the most difficult aspects of the process are finances and custody, which is why many couples work with attorneys, mediators, and the courts to create fair spousal and child support orders. Unfortunately, there are times when one spouse doesn't adhere to the court order, leaving the other to try to find a peaceful way to resolve the situation.

If you are not receiving the child support or spousal support you are entitled to, here are a few tips to help you resolve the situation.

Determine Why Your Former Spouse Isn't Paying Support

Many times, the best way to determine if your spouse has a valid reason for paying spousal or child support is to simply ask them. There are often legitimate reasons why one spouse can no longer meet their financial obligations. For example, your former spouse might have lost their job or is suffering through an illness.

Unfortunately, there are times when a spouse simply refuses to pay because the divorce was contentious, or they feel the settlement was unfair. If this is the case, you have ways you can not only collect the money you are owed, but also help ensure this doesn't happen again in the future.

Find Proof Your Spouse Isn't Paying Support

The type of proof you will need is dependent on the way you receive your support payments. For example, if your spouse wrote you a check every week, bi-weekly, or monthly, ask the bank to make copies of the previous cancelled check. If your spouse pays you by check or money order, having your bank provide you with bank statements for the last few months or one year is an ideal proof of non-payment.

Speak to Your Attorney

Bring your proof of non-payment to your attorney's office to determine what your options are. In Alabama, if your spouse is even one month behind on child support payments, you can work with The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, or CSED.

The CSED will work with you and your attorney to come to a resolution. Unfortunately, if your spouse cannot provide a valid reason for not paying child support in full and on time, you will have no choice to but involve the courts. There are several ways the court will intervene, including:
  • Wage garnishment. Alabama laws requires any child support orders also come with income withhold orders. If a former spouse is 30 days late, the court can place a garnishment order on their wages, retirement, or unemployment compensation.
  • Placing your former spouse in contempt of court. The judge might place the former spouse in contempt of court. This means that they are not complying with the child support order and are being called before the judge.
  • Placing your former spouse in jail. If the former spouse is placed in contempt, receives the order to appear, and does not comply with the order, the judge will file a failure-to-appear order and issue a warrant for their arrest.
  • Liens on property. In Alabama, if a former spouse owes at least $1,000, the judge may place a lien on their property. If the spouse attempts to sell the property, the lien will prevent this to ensure that all or some of the money that comes from the sale goes to their children.
The court may also intercept the spouse's federal or state tax refund or place interest charges on the unpaid support.

Dealing with a spouse who is unwilling or unable to pay child support can be difficult. If you have any questions, contact the professionals at The Friedlander Law Group.

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The Friedlander Law Firm
118 N. Royal St., Suite 605
Mobile, AL 36602

Phone: 251-432-5531

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Evening and weekend appointments available by appointment

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